On a typical weekday, Ashley Dorsey meets patients at their medical appointments or out in the community, whether in their homes, at the local community center, or at the park. She connects mothers with resources that provide free diapers, wipes, formula, clothes, car seats, and other essentials. She assists patients in navigating health and social services. She also provides education, advocacy and social support to patients.
But on October 26, Dorsey took a break from her duties as a ChristianaCare community health worker to receive the 2023 Community Health Worker Champion Award from the Community Health Workers Association of Delaware.
“Ashley joins patients on their journey and is there for them every step of the way.”
— Morgan Germack
“I’ve always been one to try to help people,” Dorsey said. “Getting this award validated who my parents raised me to be and that all these years later, I’m still doing what they instilled in me.”
Community health workers act as liaisons between patients and health care providers, connecting them with services while supporting them in keeping with their own culture and language, which yields better health outcomes.
As trusted health advocates, they address social drivers of health such as access to nutritious foods, safe housing and transportation, making it easier for patients to receive the care and supports they need.
Dorsey primarily works with pregnant patients who have Medicaid or no health insurance. She provides patients with bus passes so they won’t miss prenatal appointments. She accompanies patients to their local state service center so they can sign up for benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid insurance.
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And she listens patiently as women share their personal struggles, then finds ways to help them improve their situations by connecting them to resources and services.
“Ashley is passionate about helping others and she truly cares. She joins patients on their journey and is there for them every step of the way.” said Morgan Germack, manager of Community Health operations. “She meets patients where they are in that moment and gives them exactly what they need.”
Dorsey was motivated to become a women’s health community health worker because of an experience during her first pregnancy. She and her husband felt intimidated by a doctor who insisted that she needed additional testing that she didn’t want.
“I felt like my back was up against a wall and no doctor took the time to ask me how I felt,” Dorsey said. “I never wanted other women to feel that way.”
Dorsey helps patients feel heard and supported. And sometimes, she serves as the sole support person for pregnant women who have nobody to lean on.
“Imagine being in labor and delivery by yourself or being hospitalized for months with a high-risk pregnancy and not having anyone,” Dorsey said.
“While I wish I could be there for every expectant mother, I know that in the lives that I’m coming in contact with, I’m making a change, and that’s enough for me.”