Community Health Workers (CHWs) are trusted members of your community; they can successfully mediate with health care providers facilitating health care and education services for the residents of urban and rural areas, including minorities, people with low income and underserved/hard-to-reach populations.
A CHW can help promote community empowerment and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health care. They work with individuals and groups of community members to help them receive the health information, resources and necessary health care. They can participate in a variety of supportive roles including peer support. CHWs are critical to improving population health by fostering patient self-efficacy to prevent and manage both behavioral and physical health challenges.
CHWs are also known as community health advocates, lay health educators, community health representatives, discharge coordinators, community health outreach workers and peer health promoters, to name a few. In Spanish-speaking communities, they are referred as “Promotores de salud” or “Trabajadores comunitarios”.
CHW services are provided by skilled paraprofessionals who enable patients to adhere to provider recommendations by connecting patients to community-based resources. Bridging community and clinical health needs, CHWs are critical to providing community and patient centered care. They connect patients to affordable healthy fruits and vegetables, coach patients on disease prevention and management, translate and link provider instructions with affordable and culturally relevant resources. CHWs help women at highest risk for poor birth outcomes, promote normal child development, encourage people who will benefit from healthy behavior changes, work with parents in the care and handling of children and adolescents, assist families to access the health system and communicate with patients using specific characteristics by race, ethnic, culture and beliefs.