AmeriCorps and Healthcare Network: Improving Healthcare Access in Collier County

Author

Healthcare Network Southwest Florida

Posted on

Jan 17, 2024

Book/Edition

Florida - Southwest

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AmeriCorps and Healthcare Network: Improving Healthcare Access in Collier County

By Antonello Castaldi

Healthcare Network, which since its founding in 1977 in Immokalee has pursued a mission of combating healthcare inequity across Collier County, has partnered with AmeriCorps and Volunteer Florida to help connect the underserved to health services.

Healthcare Network is one of two organizations in Florida that were selected to receive a grant to start an AmeriCorps Public Health program. AmeriCorps members serve as community liaisons in Immokalee and Naples, helping to improve access to care through community health services for the community, increasing health knowledge and improved access to medical care.

“As someone who is from Immokalee and has received services from Healthcare Network, and having previously served as an AmeriCorps member, I am thrilled to have this program within the community of Collier County and being the AmeriCorps Program Coordinator for Healthcare Network said Diosili Salazar AmeriCorps Program Coordinator.Being able to represent AmeriCorps within community efforts has been rewarding, and helping others ensure that they receive vital health resources reinforces the mission of Healthcare Network.”

AmeriCorps, a federal agency, brings people together to tackle the country’s most pressing challenges through national service. AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors serve with organizations dedicated to the improvement of communities.

AmeriCorps members are selected and managed by their host organization and spend a year addressing issues critical to the organization’s mission. Healthcare Network’s grant specifically targets the areas of Immokalee and Golden Gate City in Collier County, which are historically underserved communities. This grant will ensure that access to health is given to those who need it most, with emphasis on ensuring that they receive the care they need.

“My experience with the AmeriCorps program has been very good to me,” said Leticia Manon, AmeriCorps member. “I’m learning many new things, and I have the opportunity to do what I like, which is help people in my community. I’m very grateful that this program exists because it helps me, and I can help others in need.” 

 

AmeriCorps members need to have a high school diploma or GED and their age range from 17 to 99. They will serve through July 2024 for the current cycle, but new opportunities will be available alongside Healthcare Network’s Outreach Team performing various tasks, including:

·      Serving as translators to resolve any barriers of communication.

·      Providing valuable information to those who would benefit from Healthcare Network’s resources and services. 

·      Building connections with the community to increase trust towards clinics and health care providers.

·      Following up with patients to ensure they have received care/information.

·      Scheduling appointments.

·      Serving in community events to provide information, services and connecting potential patients with Healthcare Network providers. 

·      Gaining skills and experience working within health-related careers.

·      Collaborating with community outreach to increase awareness of Healthcare Network.

·      Serving the communities where they live.

 

Volunteer Florida administers the AmeriCorps program across the state. AmeriCorps is a national service program that provides opportunities for individuals to serve their communities. in exchange for a living stipend, educational award and valuable on-the-job experience.

“My experience with the AmeriCorps program has been insightful, inspirational and encouraging,” said AmeriCorps member Leslie Escalante. “I have made connections with various people. Through all the abilities to achieve certifications, I can continue to grow into what I aspire to become, which is a registered nurse. I am grateful that they have allowed me to be part of something meaningful and contribute towards the community.”

 

About the Author

Antonello Castaldi manages the volunteer program for Healthcare Network.To learn more about AmeriCorps or other ways to get involved with Healthcare Network, email acastaldi@healthcareswfl.org or call 239.658.3730.