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Community health workers help people with low incomes avoid trips to ER

A $100,000 grant is helping to expand the program. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Camille Vaden took the dogs for a walk Wednesday morning.

As recently as last year, Vaden couldn't do this.

"I'm in a remission state right now, so I'm doing very well," Vaden said, "but last year I was wheelchair-bound."

Vaden has a rare neurological disorder called reflex sympathetic dystrophy.

But he says thanks to the community health workers program, he's doing much better.

"It increases their visits to the primary care office, which is what we want," said Dr. Thomas Wuest, chief medical officer with health insurer Trillium. "It decreases their visits to the emergency room."

Trillium health plan and Cornerstone Community Housing combined forces in 2015 to launch the community health worker program.

The workers are peer health advocates for people with a limited income.

"That could be a simple thing as sitting with them, calling to make that appointment, or actually going with them," said Tara Davee, a past user now worker as a community health worker.

Now a $100,000 grant is helping to expand the program.

"We want to deliver health," Wuest said, "not deliver intervention on illness, and there's a difference."

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