Written By: Germaine Gooden-Patterson, WHE’s Community Health Worker
June was National Healthy Homes Month! HHM was established by the U.S. Department of Housing (HUD) and Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes (OLHCHH) as a way to educate about the direct links between our health and our homes.
I started with the WHE team in December 2019 as the first Community Health Worker (CHW) with our Healthy Homes Program. My work is specific to the Mon Valley communities of Clairton, Duquesne and McKeesport. As a CHW my work is centered around helping families create a Healthy Home, particularly families who have to navigate life and a child with Asthma. Before joining WHE my approach to a healthy home was centered around mental and physical well-being to create a “Healthy Home”. My perspective has been broadened and I am grateful for the opportunity to help educate others.
In February 2020 I had my first 2 events in the community of Clairton; a Healthy Home Workshop and a tabling event at the school’s parent/teacher conferences. Suddenly in March 2020 the Pandemic hit and we all had to pivot and rethink the way we served communities. I did not expect that a 2 week stay at home order would turn into a year. We all found ourselves shifting and in the mist of it all and the most vulnerable became even more vulnerable. Not only to COVID 19 itself, but to daily challenges that we all take for granted like housing, transportation, food access, internet access, childcare and job safety and security.
WHE’s Programming, which includes Healthy Early Learning, Healthy Schools and Healthy Homes all became mostly virtual. While we were shifting from in person to virtual a part of my work was focused on making mask for the community, delivering PPE equipment to Early Learning Centers and helping with community food distributions.
As we spend more time in our home’s we become more susceptible to potential harms like mold, lead exposure, radon, toxic products that we use for cleaning or personal care, as well as outdoor pollution. In the Mon Valley community’s I serve, Healthy Home Assessments (virtual or in person) are a good way to determine if you and your family’s exposure to any of these toxins are causing or have a potential to cause harm to your health. I also bring awareness to the potential threat of climate change to the health of homes and families. It is important that we begin to see the impact an unhealthy home can have on our physical health. WHE is here to help you create a Healthier Home!
Germaine Gooden-Patterson, WHE’s Mon Valley (Clairton, Duquesne, McKeesport) Community Health Worker, firstname.lastname@example.org 412-425-0710