A new collaboration has formed in Barton County known as Communities Organizing to Promote Equity (COPE). This collaboration is made possible through a grant provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and is administered by the University of Kansas School of Medicine (KU Med).
COPE is being implemented in twenty counties across Kansas, Barton being one of them, with local stakeholders leading these efforts in each community. The goal of the COPE program is to identify and reduce barriers to health and wellbeing that members of our community face, especially those in high-risk and under-resourced communities.
Locally, the COPE action team is currently comprised of 16 members from across Barton County who meet two times a month to discuss and prioritize action strategies based on community need. As part of this effort, the COPE team is building and leveraging partnerships with organizations within our community to bring awareness to resources that are available as well as address gaps.
Additionally, another key strategy of the COPE program is to utilize the services of a Community Health Worker (CHW). A CHW is a trusted member of the community who provides support and can act as a liaison between the client and any resources they may need. The CHW can also assist by accompanying clients to appointments, connecting them with needed resources, and providing home visits to help individuals or families overcome any obstacles they may be facing that is impacting their ability to thrive. Barton County’s CHW is Flor Sanchez, who is based out of the Heart of Kansas Family Healthcare office in Great Bend and is currently accepting clients.
The COPE team hosted our first community engagement event at the Cinco de Mayo Festival on May 7 at the Barton County Courthouse. The COPE booth provided free at-home Covid testing kits and masks, goodie bags with information about the Heart of Kansas and COPE’s Community Health Worker, and dental hygiene kits. Additionally, the team with able to distribute 100 boxes of food to those in need thanks to the community partnerships built through COPE.
Anyone interested in additional information regarding the Barton County COPE program can contact the group’s Lead, Callie Miller, at 620-792-3299.