Community Health Worker
What is a Community Health Worker (CHW)
A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a front-line public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/ link/ intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.
A Community Health Worker also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy.
–The American Public Health Association
Why use a Community Health Worker?
Traditional care coordination works for many patients who are dealing with chronic disease and may have been hospitalized or visited the ED. However, for a select percentage of the population, especially those with complex health needs, ongoing supports are essential to reducing trips to the hospital.
CHWs provide critical services that bridge the gaps that often lead to patients’ return to the hospital or worsening of their chronic disease.
Health starts in the home and the community. CHWs meet with patients in their homes or a community meeting setting and develop a trusting relationship based on the community they share.
Whereas patients are often ashamed or embarrassed to share all their needs or concerns with their healthcare provider– or sometimes there just isn’t enough time during medical appointments– CHWs can delve into the Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) needs that are negatively impacting the management of patients’ illnesses and provide them with relatable health information specific to their situation.