Community health workers to provide one-on-one help to improve health of Wyandotte Countians

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Wyandotte County ranks last in Kansas for health outcomes. Many efforts are underway to try to improve health. Now residents can get some one-on-one help.

You could call Carissa Redmond a coach.

"You're eliminating the pop. How's that going?" she asked Gary Bowley.

He responded, "It seems like when I drink pop, I just don't have a taste for it."

"Good," said Redmond.

You could also call her a cheerleader. But Redmond's job title is Community Health Worker. She's helping Bowley and others set and reach health goals.

"I've seen him. He's like lit up. He's excited. He's lost weight now," Redmond said.

On Wednesday, the Community Health Council of Wyandotte County celebrated receiving a $1.9 million grant from the United Health Foundation.
That will pay for a community health worker program for three years. Seven workers, including Redmond, will help county residents.

"It's too complicated to connect all the resources that people need to help get out of poverty, to help improve their health," said Dennis Dunmyer of Kansas City CARE Clinic which manages the program.

Community health workers will help residents get food, housing, health insurance, health care and medications. It's one more effort aimed at improving health in a county that has consistently ranked last or near last in Kansas health rankings.

"I don't like being last in overall health, but I know for a fact our community is putting its best foot forward," said Mark Holland, Mayor/CEO of the Unified Government.

Bowley has lost 11 pounds.

That is so hard. That is so hard to change your diet," he said.

But he added that Redmond is motivating him.

The community health workers' goal is to reach more than 10,000 people. Wyandotte County residents can contact the workers at 913-371-9298 or be referred by community organizations and clinics.