Facebook pixel Making A Difference, One Patient at a Time

Making A Difference, One Patient at a Time

Hanna ObergStrong communication with patients and other members of their care team is just one of the skills Hanna Oberg learned as a student in the community health worker accelerated program at St. Louis Community College.

“When I work with a patient, I am all ears,” Oberg said.

Community health workers (CHWs) assist individuals and communities in their adoption of healthy behaviors. They may conduct outreach for community or health organizations to implement programs that promote, maintain and improve health. CHWs can provide information on available resources, social support and informal counseling while also advocating for individual and community health needs.

Upon completion of STLCC’s accelerated training program, candidates are eligible to apply for the community health worker credential through the Missouri Credentialing Board.

As part of her CHW training, Oberg was placed at Family Care Health Centers for her service-learning hours. FCHC is a St. Louis clinic that provides affordable, accessible, comprehensive primary care services to anyone, with an emphasis on the medically underserved. After three weeks of job shadowing, before she even graduated, Oberg was hired at FCHC.

“I was fortunate enough to start working at FCHC while I was still in the class, which I believe helped give me the first-hand experience of seeing the important work that CHWs do day in and day out,” she said.

Oberg is on a nine-person team at FCHC. Her first role there was working with Medicaid patients who frequently needed services at St. Mary’s and Saint Louis University hospitals. She got in touch with these specific patients, addressed their health needs, and helped get them in touch not only with local resources, but also connected them to grant funds for help with rent, utilities, clothing and food.

In less than a year, Oberg has been promoted to the housing specialist at FCHC. She helps people find safe housing, works with local landlords, and networks with the various organizations in St. Louis to try and tackle the housing crisis.

Oberg’s advocacy for her patients doesn’t stop at connecting them to the right resources.

“I am also working, as transportation champion, on Medicaid transportation issues that our patients experience,” she said. “I will be bringing those issues to the attention of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri to work on equitable services for every Medicaid patient.”

Oberg also is on the Trauma Informed Care team, and works to ensure that all FCHC employees are trauma informed to better assist their patients.

Oberg is proud of her patient success stories. One had experienced the loss of his spouse and really needed help getting back on his feet. Oberg worked with him on a little bit of everything—helping to apply for disability, receiving food stamps and then finally connecting with ADAPT of Missouri for more case management services.

Working hard for another patient who had a stroke, Oberg obtained for her some durable medical equipment, connected her with Meals on Wheels, helped her apply for the Medicaid expansion, provided information about adult day care centers, connected her with various transportation services, and was a part of the patient’s FCHC care/support system.

“At the end of the day, what makes me feel like I really made a difference is when my patients tell me ‘thank you for everything you do.’ When I hear that from my patients, it reassures me that this was the path that I was destined to be on,” Oberg said. “I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go through and complete the CHW program.”

Learn more about STLCC's community health worker program. The next CHW class begins Aug. 23. Application deadline is Aug. 5 or when seats fill.

Back to top