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WellAWARE health initiative begins in Charlottesville

WellAWARE bring health care to more people in Charlottesville
Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 5:15 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Betsy Peyton is the director of WellAWARE, a new community health worker program. She says Charlottesville’s highest rates of heart disease and diabetes, as well as the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccination can be found in the Rose Hill neighborhood.

“WellAWARE is a project of the primary care partnership, which is a coalition of the Charlottesville Free Clinic, UVA Primary Care, and Central Virginia Health Services,” Peyton said.

The partnership aims to bring accessible health care to neighborhoods in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Rose Hill Neighborhood Association President George Gohanna says it’s a perfect place to start their work.

“Growing up in this community, we had a neighborhood doctor whose office was on Charlton Avenue, and he would do home visits regardless of your health condition,” Gohanna said.

He sits on the WellAWARE leadership team and says it will reinvent a similar model, bringing health care workers, including Tracy Cooper, into homes.

“Sometimes when we see similar faces it makes us want to open up faster and easier,” Cooper said.

She says representation can help patients build trust.

“They’ll have some relatability by knowing the community that they work in. They’ll have a better chance of bringing about good health outcomes, rather than someone in a white jacket in a clinic that people don’t know,” Peyton said.

Tracy will grocery shop with families and show them how to read food labels.

“We hope to work on COVID-19 vaccinations, on helping people get primary care providers if they don’t have one, transportation to the doctor, whatever each household’s barrier to health care is, that’s what we’re gonna help the with,” Peyton said.

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