On March 1, 2020, Palm Beach County had its first confirmed case of COVID-19. As a global pandemic, this disease infected many, killed hundreds of thousands, and affected nearly everyone in some manner. While indiscriminate in the potential to impact lives, COVID-19 has, in fact, disproportionately impacted some populations, in terms of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. For Black/African American and Hispanic residents that experienced worse health outcomes for decades before theCOVID-19, the health and social disparities have been exacerbated.
HCSEF had been part of a county-wide initiative and provided coverage and services in the targeted geographic area with CARES Act funding from the Palm Beach County Community Services Department. Due to the federal funding timeline, the county-wide initiative ended on December 31, 2020. Recognizing the needs in the Riviera Beach/ZIP Code 33404, Lost Tree Foundation expressed interest and made a commitment to supporting efforts to provide these services to that community.
Between January 1, 2021, to June 30, 2021, HCSEF deployed a team of Community Health Advocates throughout Riviera Beach to continue providing these services to residents. While the initiative is designed to serve all residents of Riviera Beach (33404), there was an intentional effort to serve and engage racial and ethnic minority communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
The Health Council of Southeast Florida (HCSEF) has long recognized the critical and unique role that Community Health Workers (CHW) play in the health delivery system. During theCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for CHWs is apparent in the areas of equitable access to testing and services, supporting contact tracing, dissemination of trusted information, and addressing vaccine hesitancy. Learn more about their impact here.