Humans of HNC: Certified Community Health Worker at the Birmingham Free Clinic/Program for Healthcare to Underserved Populations
At Birmingham Free Clinic, we have the pleasure of having our own certified community health worker, who acts as both a bridge and safety net between patients and the healthcare system. As an AmeriCorps member on this site, I had the privilege of interviewing one of our community health workers to learn more about her role.
Q: What is your name and position at Birmingham Free Clinic?
- “My name is Lily Gorri (she/her), and I am a Certified Community Health Worker (CHW) at the Birmingham Free Clinic.”
Q: What are your responsibilities as a Community Health Worker?
- “As a CHW, my main responsibility is to help eliminate health disparities and address social determinants of health so patients can get increased access to healthcare. I do this by connecting people to resources and services in their communities. I also help patients navigate the healthcare system, including navigating how to apply for and receive insurance benefits. Most of our patients are uninsured and not eligible for government assistance, so I help with breaking down language and cultural barriers so patients can receive emergency medical assistance (EMA), financial assistance (FA), or navigate their immigration paperwork.”
Q: What initially interested you in becoming a CHW or following your current career path/profession?
- “As an immigrant myself, I know firsthand how difficult it is to navigate and learn a different system. I wanted to help others like me adapt to their new environment.”
Q: What kind of training is required to become a CHW?
- “To be a CHW, you must obtain a state certification from the Accredited Community Health Worker Training program. This training is completed through an organization called AHEC.”
Q: What is the best part of your job/What do you love most about being a CHW?
- “The best part of my job is that I have a lot of flexibility, and every day is never the same. Patients come to me with a variety of issues and questions, which makes each day different.”
Q: How do you feel your work at BFC helps eliminate healthcare disparities and health inequities?
- “I serve as the bridge between the health system and the patient. By advocating for patients and serving as their connection, I bypass health barriers patients may face, such as language barriers and health literacy.”
Q: What advice do you have for young professionals wanting to pursue a career as a CHW or in public health?
- “The advice I have for young professionals wanting to become a CHW is to always look at the full picture and view things from the patient's perspective and where they're coming from. Meet each patient where they are and tailor things to each individual patient.”