Boundless compassion: Going the extra mile — literally — on the cold streets of downtown

No bus? No problem. Community health worker Chantal Nyirinkwaya used her feet to get mom and baby to the doctor’s office. Here’s her story.

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The mother in the pediatrician’s office with her baby seemed distressed as she spoke with the receptionist. Mom wasn’t sure of the location of her child’s appointment and was, unfortunately, at the wrong clinic near downtown Louisville on a cold winter morning.

What happened next shows how one Norton Healthcare employee’s compassion and dedication — to literally go the extra mile, even if it meant walking it — made all the difference for the mom and the child who needed care.

“I told the mother that I would show her where the bus stop was and walk her there. We waited for the bus, but it never came,” said Chantal Nyirinkwaya, a Norton Healthcare community health worker based at Norton Children’s Medical Group – NuLu. “The mother was crying the whole time … I could see how much she wanted to get her child to this appointment so I just said, ‘You know what? Let’s walk.’ I knew she needed help, and I couldn’t just leave her there to find a way to get to her appointment.”

So they set out on foot for Norton Children’s Medical Group – Novak Center, over a mile away along a busy route of city streets.

According to Chantal, the mother did not speak English as a first language, and that contributed to her being overwhelmed about potentially missing her baby’s appointment. Walking alongside them, Chantal provided reassurance and guidance every step of the way.

Once they reached their destination, Chantal accompanied the mother and her child into the building, assisted with the check-in process and ensured they were settled in the waiting room.

“Right after we checked in, her face was so clear, you could see it — almost like two different people. She got her baby off her back, put the baby in her lap and was just like, ‘I can’t believe we made it.’ She didn’t say that, but you could just see the expression on her face and know. She told me so many times in her language thank you, thank you, thank you.”

The compassion Chantal showed that day was not just a display of her job duties as a community health worker, but it was a reflection of her personal experiences and values. An immigrant to the United States, Chantal understands the challenges of navigating unfamiliar environments and overcoming language barriers.

“It was important to me [to help that mother] because I can relate to her. Myself, when I came here, I didn’t know left and right or back and forth. I didn’t know anything,” Chantal said. “That mother made the effort to get to a place where she knew we could help, and I knew I had to. It’s a lot to think about when you cannot express yourself and say what you need to say.”

Community health workers

The Community Health Worker Program embeds workers in underserved neighborhoods and primary care practices to help connect patients to resources to help them get the care they need. Their work supports the goal of the Institute for Health Equity, a Part of Norton Healthcare, which is to foster an enriching, supportive and inclusive environment where all patients are able to thrive and have equal opportunities to access health care.

The Community Health Worker Program is made possible through the Norton Healthcare Foundation, with gifts from individuals, organizations, foundations and government partners. To support programs that increase access to care, make a gift now at

What Is A Community Health Worker?

Chantal recognizes the importance of lending a helping hand to those in need and makes it her mission to build a relationship rooted in trust with the patients she encounters in her work.

“Chantal is modest, empowering and resourceful. Her life experiences make her the person she is. Her kindness is not an act; her affection is genuine, and her inspiration is inspiring,” said Nikki Walker, manager with the Institute for Health Equity, a Part of Norton Healthcare. “This team is not complete without Chantal.”

The community health workers like Chantal are part of the outreach work of the Institute for Health Equity. Chantal’s story is not just about one act of kindness. It’s about the ongoing commitment to serve others that defines her character. Beyond the walls of the clinic, her compassion reaches far and wide. Her willingness to go the extra mile, literally, demonstrates her dedication to helping others in need. Whether it’s guiding a distressed mother through unfamiliar streets or providing resources in an office, Chantal’s actions inspire us all to strive for a world where kindness and empathy are the guiding principles in everything we do.