Testimony in favor of SB 988 Maryland Community Health Worker Act

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Following is testimony given by Margret Schnitzer, Director of the Community Asthma Program. The statement was presented to the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs on behalf of Dr. Wen on March 9, 2017.

Thank you Chair Carter Conway , Vice-Chair Pinsky  and members of the committee.  My name is Margret Schnitzer and I am the Director of Baltimore City Health Department's Community Asthma Program. I am here to testify on behalf of Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen in support of Senate Bill 988.

Our Community Health Workers visit the homes of children with asthma to help them and their families gain control over this chronic disease. Community health workers serve our most vulnerable residents in Baltimore and work on the frontlines to connect our residents to healthcare and other services they otherwise would not access.

The Community Health Workers in our Community Asthma Program are an essential component of our team.  With asthma, medication is only a piece of asthma control. The other part involves identifying and mitigating asthma triggers in people's homes.  Our Community Health Workers do just that.  As trusted members of the community, our staff go into people's homes and help them understand what they, their landlord, and their family members can do to help that child with asthma remain healthy. 

In a non-judgmental and compassionate manner, our Community Health Workers move families towards health. Children seen by our Community Health Workers have fewer symptom days and fewer emergency room visits for asthma.

Community Health Workers play a critical role in enabling the Baltimore City Health Department to attain its Healthy Baltimore 2020 goals of addressing health disparities, particularly in preventing and managing chronic diseases.

We support this bill because it operationalizes the recommendations made by the CHW workforce development workgroup in 2015 and creates a pathway to certification that will ensure seamless and patient-centered care throughout Baltimore and Maryland.

For these reasons, we request a favorable report on Senate Bill 988.