Community health workers need love too

Koren Carbuccia, a certified Community Health Worker (CHW) from Rhode Island, shares her inspiring journey to Washington D.C. to advocate for increased access to CHWs under Medicaid and Medicare. Learn about the vital role CHWs play in addressing the social determinants of health and supporting underserved communities.

Rhode Island News: Community health workers need love too

April 17, 2024, 7:47 am

By Koren Carbuccia

On March 4th, the NACHW formally invited me to attend the 2nd Annual NACHW/PIH Capital Hill Day 2024 in Washington DC. I would represent Rhode Island, and speak to US State Representatives Gabe Amo and Seth Magaziner, and Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse about amending Titles XVIII and XIX of the Social Security Act to increase access to Community Health Workers under the Medicaid and Medicare programs.

When I received the news from NACHW that I was accepted to go to Washington DC and represent our Ocean State, and on Behalf of ALL CHWs Nationwide I was honored and Ready to take on this special role. However, I soon realized that I might not be able to go because of Financial Reasons. This trip was Important to me, but even more so for the voiceless and underserved communities in Rhode Island and all over our country. But ESPECIALLY, for those who have yet to be served.

So I did what I would do when any Client of mine needs something….I reached out to the Community!

I made a flier and sent it to all my networks. The response was heartwarming on so many levels. I was able to go to Washington Thanks to my Community!

We are out here supporting those we serve from a position that really has no set direction or tailored location. A place that provides resources or tangible items to request from or drive up to without having to go through the same process our clients would need to. We are just the ones going on their behalf, and advocating for their needs to even achieve placement or qualification for most of these community assistances. Imagine having to prove (any way possible) to Human Service organizations (often daily) that basic needs are needed for your client and the response you receive is WHO ARE YOU? Yes, people STILL don’t know who we are, never mind what we do.

So how can we expect our employers to understand the importance of going to the National Conference for Community Health Workers or a training in another state to see how CHWs navigate systems of care for people in other places? How is this different from another member of the same organization getting to travel to other states for training that benefits the growth of the member and organization? Are Employers TRULY aware of the value of having CHWs in their organization? How about the value of independent CHWs available to their organization? If so….. SPEAK UP!!!!!

Community Health Workers are passionate about addressing the social determinants of health (SDH) needs in our communities. They work tirelessly to ensure that the people they serve have access to vital resources. This may involve helping individuals schedule doctor’s appointments, assisting with housing applications, or obtaining food for those in need. Our work also empowers and equips those we serve. With a combined built approach that stems from personal experience and learned skills, we provide the tools to help sustain these services long term.

This guided support looks different for everyone. Some people have never had parallel support. The type of encouragement that looks and sounds like no judgment, instead one of “Lets go from here”.

There isn’t a person I know (or even reading this), who hasn’t experienced the need for support like this in their lives. You don’t have to be someone that is below poverty level to benefit from a Community Health Worker, you just need to be a PERSON. A person that is in need of a hand to connect or reconnect with services that improve your social determinants of health.

👂🏽 How can you help?

Support RI Bill S2606, by DiMario, Miller, Lauria, Cano, Valverde, and Lawson

Legislative Alert & How You Can Help

For more information click on the links below…






Koren Carbuccia is a Rhode Island Certified Community Health Worker, Certified Perinatal Doula, and the Founder and CEO of Rhode Island Independent Community Health Workers Cooperative, and WildLife Doula. She is an active member of The National Association of Community Health Workers. You can reach out to her at: [email protected] or (401) 290-8076.