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New training program helps East Harlem NYCHA residents land jobs in the medical field

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jan 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-12 18:32:42-05

EAST HARLEM, Manhattan — It's a tough time to get a job right now, but a new program is helping dozens of New York City Housing Authority residents in East Harlem land jobs in the medical field and become community health workers.

Robyn Ransome said she never thought that, at the age of 41, she would be starting a new career during a pandemic. She starts her new job at a hospital in just a few weeks.

Ransome was supposed to start a new job last March; then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and she was left without a job. She found out about a new job training program just for East Harlem NYCHA residents. Ransome, who lives at the Washington Houses, signed up. After 70 hours of online training and an internship, she now has a job at NYU Langone health.

“The best part is, I’m helping my community, family, and friends," she said. "Most of my classmates are mothers, some single mothers. It allows us to start something fresh, a fresh start."

Ransome is now what’s called a community health worker, which is a community liaison to doctors, nurses and health care workers on the frontlines, advocating for patients, fighting misinformation and building trust in the health care system. Ransome is one of more than a dozen NYCHA residents in the first class graduating at the end of this month. Dr. Lorna Thorpe is Ransome’s new boss and says she’s hiring more people.

“We are hiring 10 community health workers. We will target public housing developments where COVID-19 hit hard. More employers are looking for people from communities where there are health disparities and to be that bridge between the community and the health care system,” said Dr. Thorpe, from NYU Langone Health.

The program is run by NYCHA and classes are conducted by LaGuardia Community College virtually.

“You can enter into these roles with just a high school diploma. You don’t need advanced degrees. Community trust and lived experience in NYCHA, especially NYCHA women, are well positioned for such roles,” said Shanna Castillo, a NYCHA Director.

Ransome is one of 13 women graduating at the end of the month. She's excited to start her new career. She urges other NYCHA residents to do it.

Residents who are interested in learning about more vocational and job training opportunities can call the REES hotline at 718-289-8100 or visit opportunitynycha.org.

Health partners interested in collaborating with NYCHA on Community Health Worker training and employment can contact Health.Initiatives@nycha.nyc.gov.

LaGuardia and NYCHA are both looking for more funding to continue the community health worker program, if viewers are interested in learning about similar programs at LaGuardia to help people get the training they need to qualify for new jobs quickly, they should visit LaGuardia.edu/CAREERS.