DENMARK, S.C. (courtesy voorhees.edu) — Voorhees College recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of South Carolina to provide community members in rural South Carolina additional avenues to careers in the healthcare field while simultaneously providing enhanced opportunities for recruitment, employment, and certification for some of the state’s most underserved communities.
The University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health’s Center for Community Alignment (CCA) and the Voorhees College Liberal Arts Innovation Center (LAIC) have partnered to address a community health worker shortage in rural regions of South Carolina through funding provided by the United Negro College Fund.
LAIC offers training at no cost to individuals and provides the participants with a certificate of training to be used for obtaining employment upon completion of the program. The LAIC, along with support from the CCA, will work to establish hands-on practicum experience to be applied to future employment opportunities for each certificate holder.
Dr. Kendall M. Williams, LAIC co-executive director, professor of public health, and program coordinator for public health, said the partnership with the Center for Community Alignment was a natural fit given the projects original goal of producing a comprehensive training and development program for students, faculty, staff, and community advocates.
In addition, the proposed LAIC initiative will be able to impact the rural and minority health disparities using a liberal arts and multidisciplinary perspective. The vision for the center is to create an all-inclusive and directed facility that will offer leadership globally by addressing rural and minority healthcare utilizing virtual and direct services. The center as envisioned will strengthen the curriculum and assist in developing community members’ sense of social responsibility and demonstrated abilities to apply their knowledge and skills to real-world settings.
Calvin T. Williams, Jr., LAIC co-executive director and professor of sports management, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates nearly 50 million Americans live in rural areas and face a greater risk of health disparities that cause them to be sicker and older than their urban counterparts.
“There is a direct correlation between the lack of programs that promote healthier lifestyles and provide better access to healthcare services for such disparities. The vision for our center is to provide resources that address health disparities through virtual and in person services along with caregiving challenges,” Williams said. “Improving caregiving and health outcomes in underserved communities is a preventive measure that the Biden administration supports and has pledged to add more than 100,000 new community health workers in the coming months nationwide.”
Tiffany L. Grayson, LAIC program specialist and office manager, said community health workers are vital peer assets, especially in underserved and underrepresented communities. “Community health workers provide culturally competent and appropriate health education and information to their own communities. Their efforts promote community empowerment and social justice by advocating for increased health knowledge and self-sufficiency,” Grayson said.
Grayson added, “Navigating the health care system can be difficult and overwhelming, but community health workers ease the process by serving as a bridge that links people to needed health care information and services.”
About the Voorhees College Liberal Arts Innovation Center
The purpose of the Liberal Arts Innovation Center at Voorhees College is to increase the healthcare access and equity of underserved, high need areas, and underrepresented minority populations by creating innovative pathways and models for increasing community opportunities to acquiring much needed resources, care, and diversifying avenues of access to healthcare in South Carolina and the nation.
For more information, please contact Tiffany Grayson, LAIC program specialist, at 803-780-1238 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.