COVID-19 Rural Health Inequities: Insights from a Real-World Scenario

This submission has open access
Submission Summary
Submission ID :
Submission Type
Submission Track
Community Programs
Submission Topic
Presentation File :
If the file does not load, click here to open/download the file.
Video Presentation :
If the file does not load, click here to open/download the file.
Your Organization's Story :

An Assistant Professor in the School of Health Professions and Clinical Executive with SaferCare Texas at the University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC), I have conducted research and participated in community health programs collaboratively with interprofessional experts in the field. My recent research and funding through both the National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities as well as the National Network of Libraries of Medicine affords me the opportunity to work with Community Health Workers (CHWs) and communities to develop tools to improve disease management and health literacy efforts across cultures. 

My initial funding from NIMHD and NIH involved developing training programs to teach CHWs maternal health and health literacy principles empowering them to help abate maternal morbidity and mortality by keeping moms healthy and well. Additional funding for CHW education through the NIH CEAL Alliance addressed Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy in underserved areas. Currently, my Texas Higher Education Coordinating Grant, "Accelerating Credentials of Purpose and Value: Upskilling CHWs" recruits and trains CHWs in rural/underserved areas to build healthcare capacity. The grant execution and deliverables target recruiting and certifying lay health workers to become CHWs in underserved/rural areas and upskilling existing CHWs.

Objective: This presentation will demonstrate how health literacy and community health workers build a bridge between clinical care and public health. Many rural communities throughout the country experienced Covid-19 health disparities especially in minority populations who work in manual labor jobs. 

Background: During the pandemic, Mount Pleasant, a rural community, became a hotspot for Covid-19 cases due to housing local industry and agriculture. As a result, Titus Regional Hospital was overwhelmed by lack of communications with the Hispanic community to abate the unrelenting spread and resultant overburden of their healthcare system.

Methods: We developed a multi-pronged approach for implementation at Titus Regional Hospital including:

1)    Hiring a bilingual Community Health Worker. 

2)    Communication interventions and tools to bridge Spanish/English.

3)    Training in both Health Literacy and Cultural Competency.

4)    Pipeline programs to expand diverse and bilingual medical staff. 

5)    Relationship building with prominent diverse community leaders.

6)    Authentic and efficacious community relations despite language barriers.

Results: Our project used a collaborative stakeholder model with hospital administration to facilitate sustainability and community relations including attitudinal and behavioral change towards community outreach to improve patient engagement and communication. The project resulted in the opening of a Bilingual Care Clinic.

Conclusion: This presentation will inform professionals about our model that empowers rural communities and hospital administrators using evidence-based health literacy practices by leveraging community health workers. This is important not only for this pandemic but for future public health issues where communication is of the utmost importance to help prevent disease spread and economic losses especially for disparate and underserved communities.

Assistant Professor/Clinical Executive
UNT Health Science Center/SaferCare Texas
Texas Christian University
Community Health Worker
158 hits

For Technical Assistance, please email