Librarian – Spokane, WA
After being unemployed with a baby who needed health insurance, Aileen understands what it’s like to search for health coverage. Now, a librarian at the Spokane County Library District since 2010, Aileen wanted to help make the process easier for others trying to enroll in health coverage. Aileen and a team of six librarians were some of first librarians in the state to also become In-Person Assisters, who are certified to assist residents with enrollment.
Aileen became interested in the Affordable Care Act after reading a series of newspaper articles about the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. Aileen said it soon “became so clear that librarians could easily be navigators. It’s something (librarians) do so naturally.” The librarians quickly set up a system that allowed them to help residents with applications while also performing their full-time duties as librarians. “We could really capitalize on the library’s reputation of being a safe and neutral place,” Aileen said. Word of mouth, along with community forums and outreach events, helped draw people into the library.
Aileen said it has been a humbling experience to see how so many people lived so long without health coverage. “I feel really honored to have been able to help so many people.”