Based in Oakland, Highland Health Advocates is an advocacy program addressing socioeconomic determinants of health by connecting patients/families with community resources. As part of a larger consortium, HHA mobilizes highly-trained volunteers from various backgrounds to improve patients’ health outcomes. The program is comprised of clinic-based social screening and assistance programs, several of which use volunteers and other workforce development recruits to staff a resource “Help Desk.” Compared to the original 15 volunteers, the program has more than quadrupled in size in three years. The desk itself has expanded to three times as many hospital departments and has hired a paid program coordinator, a total of 19 shift leads, 4 program interns, and an MSW intern. With continued expansion and improvement, HHA strives to both better prepare volunteers to advocate for patients and cultivate an understanding of social determinants of health within the community. Through a culture of service, HHA aims to introduce its model (toolkit) to other regional hospitals and gradually improve the way healthcare is approached in the U.S.
In rural Guatemala, where multiple factors conspire to undermine the public’s health, adolescent empowerment represents a promising strategy. Today’s adolescents are future leaders capable of