MEDIA CONTACTJeff Powell, (402) 471-6223
Lincoln, Neb. – The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced that Maria Reyes, a Community Health Worker (CHW) who is employed with the Lexington Regional Health Center, has been awarded the CHW Making a Difference Award.
CHWs are a vital part of the public health care system. Reyes serves as a bridge between public health, health care services, and community resources to assist individuals and communities to improve health. CHWs conduct outreach and education to promote health and improve access to resources and services. Additionally, they work to ensure quality care and culturally appropriate accessibility to services in Nebraska for all people.
When DHHS called for nominations for CHW awards, the goal was to recognize unique ways CHW's have served communities during the pandemic. When nominating Reyes, her colleagues wrote about her knowledge of the region and commitment and service to the Lexington community.
Reyes has also participated in community-level research and is the co-author of a peer-reviewed publication that highlights the contributions CHWs make in helping others overcome obstacles and barriers to health access. In 2020, a large audience attending a statewide health conference was deeply moved to hear Reyes speak of her experiences helping those hospitalized with COVID. Reyes translated for patients, families, and their caregivers over the phone, even during the middle of the night.
The Maternal and Child Health program at DHHS, funded by the federal Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, collaborates with other stakeholders to provide education and workforce development activities for Nebraska CHWs, many of whom work in local communities with families and children through in-home visiting, early childhood initiatives, and other parent support programs.