Building a Public Health Reserve with Community Health Workers

We are pleased to announce that members of the UWPRC have received funding through a 2020 COVID-19 Response Grant, co-sponsored by ICTR and WPP, to support a new project, “Building a Public Health Reserve with Community Health Workers.” The goal of this project is to design and pilot test a sophisticated, culturally appropriate strategy to support the rapid scale-up of COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and ultimately, vaccination. This is being accomplished with the already existing infrastructure of community-based programs supporting families with young children who face higher rates of poverty. Many of these programs use a variety of community health worker (CHW) models including home visitors, promotoras, and doulas. At the end of this project we expect to have a tested strategy that can be scaled up across WI, adapted for other populations, and inform public health strategies nationally.

This project is led by Deb Ehrenthal (UWPRC Director) and Katie Gillespie (UWPRC Deputy Director), working closely with SMPH faculty and staff including Jane Mahoney, Paul Moberg, Mei Baker, Janean Dilworth-Bart, Marcia Morales, Heidi Brown, Melody Bockenfeld, Nicholas Schmuhl, Roseanne Clark and Jen Perfetti. Melissa Marver serves as the Project Assistant.

This project is conducted in partnership with organizations across the state of Wisconsin that utilize Community Health Workers in their work with community members. Our current organizational partners include RISE Wisconsin, the African American Breastfeeding Network, Centro Hispano of Dane County, the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program, the Madison Dane County Health Department, the State Lab of Hygiene, Dr. Katie Williams and the Plain Community, and the Wisconsin Community Health Worker Network. The UWPRC is engaging the Community Advisory Board and Translational Partners Panel for this project.

Funding for this project was provided by the UW School of Medicine and Public Health from the Wisconsin Partnership Program through a grant to the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

If you are interested in learning more about this project, please contact Katie Gillespie, the UWPRC Deputy Director, at khgillespie@wisc.edu.