We are proud of former Allentown Promise Neighborhood Resident Liaison Sandra Pisani who has accepted a job working for Lehigh Valley Health Network on the new Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project in the city’s downtown.
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 NIZ are operating out of PNLV’s Allentown Promise Neighborhood (APN) office in downtown Allentown.
APN is using 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.
We interviewed Sandra about the work she is doing in the community.
What was your past involvement with PNLV/APN?
My past involvement with PNLV/APN was that of an employee. During my employment I assisted with outreach with the community, helping assist with surveying within the Allentown Promise Neighborhood areas and zone. I also had the privilege to promote events, then help assist families within their attended events so that they may not feel excluded during meetings with facilitators, and other influential people throughout the Lehigh Valley. I was given the opportunity from within the organization and through other partnering organizations such as LVHN, Career Link, and Building 21 to further my employment. I was then offered the opportunity to work on connecting members of the community to resources, activities, and resident dinners.
How did working on the APN Resident Survey help connect you to downtown residents and make you more aware of what they need the most help with?
Surveying residents in Allentown helped me to develop empathy, humanity, and care. The survey questions were based on insecurities in areas of education, food, birth control, housing, and recreation. These main areas helped build hope in community members likewise myself, that an attempt to address what was lacking in the neighborhoods surveyed would be addressed and corrected. During my time working with the PNLV/APN staff canvasing available resources, surveying families, and influencing the community was an awakening experience for me. Knowing that I no longer had to feel as though I stood alone when addressing the needs of the community has raised an even greater desire for compassion and commitment within me. I also believe that with my work in the community our goals to provide resources and education will help inspire the same passion in others.
Tell us about your new job as a Community Health Worker with Lehigh Valley Health Network and the Allentown Children’s Health Network and the Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project. What will you be doing in this role and how will it help APN families?
As a Community Health Worker with the Lehigh Valley Health Network this new position will help with building trust amongst families primarily in what I consider to be the heart of Allentown. By working through the Allentown Children’s Health Improvement Project the focus will be based on working in the homes on a one-on-one basis with mothers who may have a child or children from ages 0-5 years. Allowing them to access a Behavioral Health Specialist, Nurse Navigators, PNLV/APN, and other organizations throughout the Lehigh Valley, and to help empower them to positively affect turnover rates of succession for prenatal, postpartum, wellness visits. And to also help the uninsured become insured and hopefully create a bridge way to their preferred hospitals.
Why did you decide to apply for this new job? How do you think your work will impact the health of the community?
The impact that working with PNLV/APN had on me was that I felt a void, each time my expected departure date closed in. The position that I was initially hired for would last for about only two months, then each time by grace it became another reoccurring opportunity for employment through partnering organizations, amongst them LVHN. I believe that my decision to move into my new position with LVHN was influenced by my experience working with PNLV/APN. Working among new leaders and staff, and working with LVHN has provided me with the opportunity to see how important education is in my life and the life of others in our community. The ACHIP program and partnership with APN will continue evolving in the future. I am grateful that LVHN has decided to partner with PNLV/APN to help families in our community.