Community Health Workers:Unique Model to Improve Health Outcomes

January 12, 2015 3:51 pm
CHWs resized

Community Health Workers in Grand Rapids.

With new parameters around population health management, keeping people healthy and out of the hospital is a tall order, one that community health workers (CHW) are assisting with. On December 18, 2014 Community Health Program manager, Maria Alvarez deLopez hosted a CHW Meet and Greet Luncheon. The luncheon provided an opportunity for colleagues to learn about Community Health Worker profession and meet newly hired community health workers.

Regionally, Mercy Health Community Benefit Ministry employs about 45 community health workers.

In total, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s has nine Community Health Workers. Some CHWs will work as part of a team within the Community Benefit Clinics; others have been strategically placed within the various communities. The goal of the community health worker is to work collaboratively with various disciples to provide Mercy Health patients with exceptional care by providing people-centered care.

What is a community health worker?
A Community Health Workers (CHW) as a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to; facilitate access to services, enhance the quality and equity of service delivery, promote, maintain and improve individual and community health.

CHWs assist individuals/communities by applying their unique understanding of the experience, language, and/or culture of the populations they serve.
CHWs utilize these skills by performing one or more of the following roles: Care Coordination, Health Coaching and promoting health, Home-based Support, Outreach and Community Mobilization, System (s) Navigation and Participatory Research. CHWs provide direct services such as social support, advocacy, first aid and blood pressure screening.

During the lunch, Community Health Workers shared stories of success on how they guided to improve the health of not only the patient, but the entire family.

Socorro Mendoza shared one such success: “One lady kept presenting to the emergency room, due to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. However, once I began working with her, she and I would walk together during our meetings. She gradually stopped drinking pop, and started walking with her entire family. Today, she is on Weight Watchers, manages her blood sugar much better and has lost 60 pounds. Her whole family’s eating and exercise habits have changed for the better.”

Benji Raab, Heartside Community Health Worker, who was on the job for a mere three weeks, already had a win with a lady who was seeking help with addiction, and who has now been attending AA meetings, thanks to Raab’s persistence and willingness to help.

Mercy Health Muskegon CHWs showed support to their colleague CHWs by providing pearls of wisdom of working with people across the communities they serve, and most importantly, their advice about how to manage their jobs, personal and professional boundaries and staying safe while in the community, working outside the hospital walls.

Please welcome the community health workers as they embrace their new roles in our community.


Jane Weaver

OUTSTANDING!!!!! Wonderful to have these people working with our patients -- we have needed this for a long time in our Clinics!!!

Dereka G

What a great article about a wonderful group of hard working people!! Very cool!

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