What Dialysis Patients Should Know about COVID-19


Ilda Hernandez is a community health worker and coordinator for the PAES Network at Enlace.

Name of the organization you represent.

Enlace Chicago

Tell us about your organization and the work you do there.

Enlace Chicago seeks to improve the quality of life for residents across Little Village by maximizing local resources to promote holistic wellness and equity, prevent chronic disease, and increase access to high-quality healthcare, healthy food, and other resources. We also hold initiatives for immigration, education, and violence prevention services.

As an immigrant, I am especially concerned for the well-being of immigrants, Hispanics, and Latinos alike. My goal is to make sure that our community members have access to a variety of healthcare resources in spite of their citizenship status, language ability, or income. That’s why, I serve as a community health worker and coordinator for the PAES Network, an initiative of Enlace that bridges health providers and community members to promote culturally appropriate health literacy, increase cultural competency for healthcare providers, and provide consistency for patients for equitable healthcare.

What communities do you serve? (city, neighborhood, region etc.)

While our organization is located in Little Village, we serve a variety of communities across Chicago with large Hispanic and Latino bases.

What populations do you serve?

We primarily focus on Hispanic community members, recent immigrants, and families with a low-income status.

Why did you decide to join the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance?

We decided to join the Illinois Kidney Care Alliance because we believe it is necessary that we educate our members on the severity of chronic kidney disease and provide them with the information and resources necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle.

What do you hope the alliance accomplishes?

We would like the Alliance to help reduce disparities in kidney care for Hispanic and Latinos by increasing the availability of culturally sensitive resources and educational materials for our communities.

What policy changes do those living with kidney disease need now?

Our Hispanic and undocumented residents need ongoing support throughout their battle with Kidney disease. They need to know that they are not alone. We need more education and mentorship programs meant to guide Hispanic patients through their battle. More importantly, we need to extend health insurance and financial assistance to our undocumented populations to make sure they can lead a healthy life.

What can lawmakers do to help those with kidney disease?

Lawmakers should be advocates for our communities and increase medical assistance for undocumented residents to make sure that they have the same resources available as U.S citizens.

What is something most people don’t know about dialysis/kidney disease?

Most people view kidney disease as a life-stopper. They don’t know that they can still live a normal life if they follow a healthy lifestyle and tap into existing resources. For them to be able to do this, they need proper and ongoing support. We need to increase the visibility and access to existing health resources to our communities while paying special attention to our spanish-speakers and undocumented residents who are often forgotten.

If you can share one story about the work you and your organization do, what would it be?

At Enlace we serve a variety of people with a diverse set of health needs. We are especially proud of the work that we have completed during the Covid-19 pandemic. During this time, we witnessed a tremendous spike in financial and health challenges for our communities and worked tirelessly to support them through this time. We referred members to the appropriate financial assistance programs for rental assistance, food, and health costs. So far, Enlace has helped more than 500 families with emergency funds regardless of race, language, or citizenship status. Enlace and the community health workers are always here for our community.

Any additional information you would like to share about your organization?

Our community members are our family. We work collaboratively to provide a safe space for undocumented residents, Hispanics, and women alike. We take pride in our health, immigration, safety, and professional development resources and hope to expand our reach to better serve the health needs of our family across the Chicagoland