November 25, 2008
Gloria Mejia of the Cambridge Public Health Department received a 2008 Community Health Worker Award from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health for her passion, dedication and leadership abilities. Ms. Mejia was one of five community health workers honored before an audience of 500 public health professionals at the Ounce of Prevention Conference last month.
Ms. Mejia works for the Cambridge-Somerville Healthy Homes and Lead Safe Kids programs, both based at the Cambridge Public Health Department. Over the past 12 years, she has helped hundreds of families in dozens of communities reduce their children’s risk of lead poisoning and asthma.
“Gloria brings an immense natural charisma, energy, and sense of caring to her work,” said Sam Lipson, the department’s director of environmental health and Ms. Mejia’s supervisor. “She is a tireless advocate for the families in our programs, many of whom are low-income and do not speak English.”
Ms. Mejia was selected as an exemplary community health worker for her leadership in promoting health and wellness, increasing access to health care, reducing health disparities, and collaborating with other community programs. Already a certified medical interpreter for Spanish, Ms. Mejia took the initiative to learn to speak Portuguese to better communicate with the families she serves.
“We are honored to have community health workers receive statewide recognition” said Lisa Renee Holderby, the executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers. “Recently, more government officials are recognizing the contributions of community health workers to the success of health care reform. As the cost of health care soars, the work of community health workers is being highlighted at a state and national level for improving access to appropriate care, reducing health disparities, and containing costs.”