Maha Elmashni is the health access program assistant at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City. That’s not all she does though. Through a partnership with the Utah Office of Health Disparities, the government entity tasked with equalizing healthcare and resource access for underserved communities, Maha—and a few other IRC staff members—also works as a community health worker. Community health workers in Utah usually help promote and advocate health access, now their job focuses specifically on the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has revealed many disparities in health care and opportunity in communities of color, notably Black and Latinx communities. Utah policymakers in a special session during late spring expressed concerns about disproportionally affected communities and discussed ways to supply funding to a program that would seek to provide greater equality.