In 2017, the Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) was awarded the Appalachian Regional Commission Power Grant funding via Marshall University and The Sisters’ Health Foundation to establish a Community Health Worker (CHW) Program. This program is the first of its kind in Meigs County.
My name is Laura Grueser and I was hired as the first CHW for the MCHD. I am certified under the Ohio Board of Nursing and trained to teach the Diabetes Self-Management, Chronic Pain Self-Management and Chronic Disease Self-Management Courses. Part of my job as lead CHW is receiving referrals from Holzer Health Systems, Hopewell Health Centers and soon, OhioHealth. I visit with patients, admit them into the program and perform medicine reconciliations. I am responsible for all grant reporting. This information is gathered by Marshall University and used to follow our progress in helping to lower patient A1Cs and other health related issues. I, along with Kiera Frank, MCHD CHW, meet regularly with Care Managers at the referring clinics. Many times, Kiera and I are in the patent homes and see circumstances that the doctors cannot. We are able to speak about possible problems and work on solutions.
Because I was raised in Meigs County, I know many of my patients. And if I don’t know them, I can always find some common ground between us. Most often, I can talk about how I was raised, growing our food and canning in the summer and butchering or hunting our own meat in the fall and winter. I’ve learned that many people knew my mother (who worked at the Meigs County Library for many years) or they know my dad because he poured concrete for them. There is always common ground and that’s how I build rapport with people. And, I can truly help them change their lives for the better.
The CHW program is meant to educate and support Type II diabetics as they take the steps to learn self-management techniques. As CHWs, we do our best to address the barriers to healthy living that many of our patients face. Read further to learn more about how these barriers are addressed as explained by Kiera.
My name is Kiera Frank. I am currently employed at the Meigs County Health Department as a full-time CHW. I have been working in this position since May 2018.
As one of the CHWs employed by the MCHD, my job is to work with various providers and clinical care teams to assist high-risk patients with diabetes and co-morbidities. I visit these patients weekly with home or in-office visits to help improve health outcomes. Within these home visits, I am to provide emotional and social support, link patients with resources and act as a liaison between the patient and Community Action, food pantries, Job and Family Services and many more resources available in our area. I also offer education to help patients better self-manage their diabetes. The diabetes education I provide varies due to patient needs. Education examples include: reading nutrition labels, providing healthier diabetes-friendly recipes, teaching patients to include exercise in their lives, helping patients learn how to cook and actual preparation of meals in their home they can later on use alone, and going on shopping trips to guide patients on how to efficiently purchase healthier choices to include in their daily diet.
Being a CHW at the MCHD and working with diabetic patients, I feel as though I can personally relate to many of my patients and the way they feel being a Type I diabetic myself. I was diagnosed at age eight with Type I diabetes and have to live day-to-day with the challenges that come along with diabetes. Although my diabetes is slightly different then the patients I visit, we face many of the same challenges.
Since being hired at the MCHD, I have completed the CHW certification course through Ohio University and am now certified under the Ohio Board of Nursing. I have also been trained to lead Stanford University Chronic Disease Self-Management and Chronic Pain Self-Management classes.
This coming September, our program will be featured in a PBS special produced by Structure Films addressing diabetes.
For more information about the CHW Program, please call 740-992-6626 Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. You do not need a referral for us to be able to help you in some way.
Kiera Frank and Laura Grueser are the Meigs County Health Department Community Health Workers.