Community Health Workers

El Sol pioneered the implementation of the Promotores de Salud and Community Health Worker model in the Inland Empire. Although some scholars make a distinction between these two community empowerment approaches, at El Sol we used the terms interchangeably.

in the transformative power of the Community Health Workers.

What is a Community Health Worker?

The CHW model is a peer-to-peer empowerment approach in education, prevention, and early intervention for social and health services that developed in Latin America and is rapidly spreading in Southern California and throughout the U.S.

The model is based on the recognition that the people best equipped to reach underserved communities are the very people from those communities. El Sol’s CHWs/Promotores are chosen from community members who demonstrate leadership potential and a desire to make a difference in their communities.

These peer leaders live in the same neighborhoods, belong to the same communities, and their children attend the same schools as the people they serve. Their life experiences mirror community members’ with many of them having become a CHW because they themselves were touched by an El Sol CHWs/promotor. The resulting understanding, rapport, trust, and deep cultural awareness allow them to communicate in ways that are most meaningful and impactful for the people they serve.

Role of the CHWs/Promotores:​

El Sol CHWs/Promotores develop a variety of knowledge and skills that are disseminated throughout the communities, while also providing linkages to resources when needed. They are trained to strategically provide community members with health outreach, education, and referrals to basic and preventive health and social services. They do this by:

  • Building empathetic and trusting relationships
  • Sharing personal experiences
  • Developing social support networks and system navigations
  • Mobilizing the community to create a healthier neighborhood
  • Proving informal Counseling 
  • Home Visitation and Case Management
  • Teaching and empowering communities of advocate for improved quality of life

CHW Return on Investment:

CHWs programs targeting underserved patients with multiple chronic diseases provide an annual return of investment of $2 for every $1 invested.

HFA Return on Investment:

A recent study estimates HFA’s ROI at $1.46. This means that every $1 dollar spent on HFA produces an estimated $1.46 in benefits for families and society. In other words, HFA produces more benefits than the cost of providing the services. For some families, ROI is even higher. A 7-year study found an ROI of $3.16 for families involved with Child Welfare.

Impact of the CHWs/Promotores:

El Sol CHWs/Promotores ultimately contribute to improvement in social determinants of health resulting in better quality of life and reduction of health disparities.

  • CHWs apply public health practices and approaches
  • CHWs are specifically effective in isolated traditionally underserved and “unserved” communities including undocumented communities
  • CHWs serve as cultural brokers and Clinical CHWs are trained to serve as liaisons to improve access and quality, resulting in improved health outcomes and reduced costs
  • CHWs support clinician and other health professionals by facilitating appropriate use of health systems (Reduction in ER visits and hospital readmissions reduction, promote preventive and primary care, and promote health behaviors
  • Improve health care access, quality, and cultural competence and reduce health disparities

Community Health Workers and Home Visitation:

El Sol holds a certification and implements Healthy Families of America evidence-base model in combination with Community Health Workers Model which brings an innovative combination and it was found positive outcomes in areas ranging from adequacy of prenatal care utilization, child abuse prevention, enrollment patterns, social support, referral systems, self-esteem, and psychological functioning.

Community Health Worker and COVID-19 Pandemic:

EL Sol CHWs Response to Covid-19

  • Provides education on how to minimize risk and direct community members to credible and reliable resources.
  • Provides assistant clarifying myths on topics related to Covid-19.
  • Provides navigation to connect community members to health providers and health insurance.
  • Makes referrals to social services available.
  • Distributes food to the most in need.
  • Provides informal counseling to support families.

 

Community Health Workers as Contact Tracer

Community Health Workers (CHWs) can play an essential function as entry-level (lay or para-professional) COVID-19 Contact tracers because of their close relationships with both patients and health care systems in their communities, their understanding of community culture, and their knowledge of the social supports needed to help people through this pandemic. Contact tracers join a dynamic team of medical and public health professionals responsible for interviewing the contacts of people with confirmed positive COVID-19 test results. In these interviews, tracers will collect a range of critical information including demographics, medical history and symptoms, exposures, details about current living situation and ability to quarantine/isolate. Tracers must be able to conduct these sensitive conversations professionally, protect confidentiality, and be willing to lean and employ techniques of motivational interviewing. While tracers are not required to have a background in public health or medicine, ability to make quick and sound judgements on when to elevate issues of importance and concern to clinical staff is key. Language abilities, especially in Spanish, are critical. Comfort working on multiple online platforms and working in a fast-paced, dynamic, challenging environment is key. The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials supports the role of CHWs as entry-level COVID-19 Contact Tracers.

Resource –  Families USA

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