Community Links program connects Allegan County residents to services

Allegan County is “making connections that help our community thrive” through its new Community Links program.

“It’s designed to be an extension of existing community services and bridge gaps for individuals to help the community thrive,” says Liz Healy, public information officer for the Allegan County Health Department.

The department used funding from the Michigan Rural Health Center to create this program, which bridges the gap between individuals, communities, and the health and social service systems. 

Improving access

The Health Department uses referrals to connect community members to services they have had difficulty locating.

“The goal of this program is to address social determinants of health, such as housing, access to care, or food security that affect individual health outcomes,” Healy says. “The community health workers will also work with local agencies to help meet individuals’ needs.”

Community health workers serve as liaisons between health and social service providers and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. Those services include:
  • Food/meal assistance
  • Primary medical and dental care
  • Clothing and furniture
  • Utilities
  • Transportation
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Financial education and resources
  • Support groups
  • Domestic violence education, case management, Substance Abuse (SA) therapy, and therapy for children who have witnessed abuse
  • Support and treatment for substance abuse/mental health issues
  • Crisis intervention
  • Legal assistance

“Community health workers work continuously with residents until they no longer need Community Links services,” Healy says. “Residents are offered phone, email, and video chat, as well as in-person appointments for those who do not have access to any of the above. The time frame for contacting individuals who have submitted an online survey is 48 business hours.”

Simplifying the process

The Health Department works with all residents/members of the community, but those in certain situations (for example, you’re eligible for Medicaid, you don’t have a primary care provider, you’re experiencing homelessness or food insecurity or domestic violence) will be treated as top priorities.

“Connecting people to resources and helping to guide them through the process is important,” Healy says. “Often when people are in need of basic necessities such as housing or food, they have so much going on in their lives that it can be challenging for them to navigate the systems to get the resources they need. This program not only connects them to the services but supports them through getting the needed service.”

Those interested in the program or who would like to refer someone to the program can view the Allegan County Health Department’s Community Links brochure, fill out the online referral form, or call the department at 269-673-5411 and ask for a community health worker.

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Read more articles by Kelsey Sanders.