• Connie Sowa

CHOICE/CPAA Team Recognized for Outstanding Relief Efforts

In February 2022, our CHOICE/CPAA Team working on the Care Connect project with the Washington Department of Health (WADOH) was recognized for their outstanding efforts in providing emergency relief to support COVID-19 quarantine and isolation efforts in the Central Western Washington region.


Care Connect Washington is a program to provide food and other necessities to people who have either tested positive for COVID-19 or been exposed and need support to isolate or quarantine at home. The state Department of Health, working with local health jurisdictions and their partners, operates Care Connect Washington on a region-by-region basis. Each region works with community-based partners to connect people to services they are eligible for, such as medication delivery, health care, help applying for unemployment, local housing agencies, food banks, childcare providers and more. Help is made based on need.


In our region, comprised of seven counties, CHOICE/CPAA is the hub in coordinating efforts within the counties of Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Thurston and Wahkiamkum. Much of this geographic area is rural and one of the biggest challenges facing the Team was developing relationships with local grocery stores and food outlets to deliver fresh food to those in isolation. In the interim, our offices became a warehouse for emergency food and care kits donated by Kroger and Walgreens, respectively. Working with our partner agencies throughout the region, our team dispenses these emergency supplies either directly or to partnering agencies until fresh food groceries can get delivered to those in need.


So, what does a typical day look like for the CHOICE/CPAA Team? WADOH provides a daily list of clients requesting assistance. Our team members go through and disperse those clients to local agencies in each county, or match them with community health workers (CHWs) to assess exactly what a client's needs are. Beyond food, a client may need emergency help with medication delivery, utilities, rent or other household assistance. There is constant communication between the CHOICE/CPAA Team and the CHWs as together they determine how best to take care of a client's needs. Turnaround time is a minimum of 14 days, but can take up to 30 days for completion in emergency payments and reimbursements for household assistance requests.


Another support function for the CHOICE/CPAA Team is checking in weekly with agencies and CHWs to provide technical assistance and training on the Pathways Hub. In additional to technical support in the region, the Team also provides counseling to help CHWs avoid job fatigue and stress. QPR Suicide Prevention training (See also our QPR page) is a targeted virtual training that the Team will roll out to CHWs in May.


In one year's time, the CHOICE/CPAA Team has dealt with over 4,500 referrals, providing over 1,200 fresh food grocery deliveries, and distributed nearly 750 care kits and 557 shelf stable food kits throughout the region. CHOICE/CPAA has achieved an 88% completion rate on those referrals, which is another reason the WADOH is recognizing the outstanding work of this mighty team of three. Two of the three staff are military veterans whose combined experience of combat life-saver and biological weapons HAZMAT training have served our region well. CHOICE/CPAA is very fortunate to have such a dynamic team of people who have brought great experience to the organization.


What does this mean for the future beyond COVID-19 recovery? The Care Connect model is currently begin discussed among all of the ACH's throughout Washington as a model for emergency response covering all types of disasters whether wild fires, floods or earthquakes or other health-threatening pandemics such as the coronavirus. CHOICE/CPAA is proud to be a part of this emergency relief initiative and looks forward to continuing a long, productive relationship with the WADOH.


See also our Care Connect page.

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