The Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project (ACHIP) was launched in 2016 thanks to a $1.91 million, 30-month grant from The Dorothy Rider Pool Health Care Trust. The new program brings together Lehigh Valley Health Network’s Department of Community Health and Women and Children’s services along with the Children’s Hospital at Lehigh Valley Hospital, and Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley in a partnership. The program’s primary goal is to improve the health of pregnant women and young children in Center City Allentown through home visits for early intervention. A staff of bilingual community health workers from the neighborhood surrounding the Neighborhood Improvement Zone operates out of PNLV’s Allentown Promise Neighborhood office in downtown Allentown. APN uses its strong relationship with downtown residents to connect parents with young children and pregnant women to the ACHIP services.
The health workers are embedded in the community they serve in order to better cultivate relationships with residents, leading to trust of the local healthcare system, which is a critical component to the program’s success with this at-risk population. Here is a profile on one of them – Denisette Irizarry.
1. What made you want to work on the ACHIP program?
I know the importance of, and am passionate about, the health and quality of life for children, young mothers and families. These are exactly the community members that the ACHIP program is designed to help. I love the idea of being able to work with mothers from pregnancy and into the early years of life for their children.
2. What interests you most about the work you do in the community through the ACHIP program?
I am able to work closely with families and our community partners while serving as a role model for our clients (especially the young mothers). I am happy to serve as an advocate to our families and be involved in helping to identify and address some of the needs of our community. I am also interested in how the work we do with the ACHIP program today will benefit the families and other community-based programs tomorrow.
3. Since the home visitations started, what types of things have you been able to help the new moms and moms-to-be about with when it comes to caring for themselves and/or their child?
Our team has succeeded in connecting our families to resources for parenting and prenatal support, rental assistance programs, furniture, early education programs and child care services. With the help of the nurse navigator and counselors on our team, we’ve provided referrals to services that address physical and mental health as well any child development concerns.