Community Health Worker Program
Novant Health integrated community health workers and a care connections specialist into a community resource center setting, making it easier for individuals to access critical resources. How does this build trustworthiness? Making services available to patients in locations that they already visit demonstrates caring and provides comfort and safety for patients from historically marginalized populations.
How It Works
An investment like the community health worker (CHW) program is a shining example of a concrete way to build trust that can help transform someone’s life, including their health, well-being, safety, access to critical resources, confidence and many other determinants of impact. By providing a resource within prioritized communities, dedicated to the support of individuals in their journey to improving their personal circumstances, the program has created space for authentic, personalized relationships between the CHWs and their clients.
Skills and Competencies
Competencies for CHWs include:
- collaboration, innovation and resilience to bridge gaps between healthcare and the social sector
- empathy for lived experiences and culturally competent care, which is pivotal in building trust
- a working knowledge of motivational interviewing, health education, behavior change methods and an emphasis on preventive care
- the ability to be skilled observers who can assess environmental determinants affecting patient health outcomes
Novant Health reached out to Mecklenburg County (NC) to begin a dialogue around CHW placement at the Community Resource Center (CRC) as part of its natural partnership. The program resulted from an existing partnership inclusive of work with the county’s Community Health Needs Assessment, as well as the Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Clinic, a new community clinic that had just broken ground next door to the CRC.
Through intentional strategic engagement, the intent was to make it easier for individuals to access critical resources in one place, saving both time and frustration. The CRC is solving a huge need for community members by its very existence. By adding a community health worker and care connections specialist linking individuals to health and social resources, it provides the health component of whole-person care design.
We do not have evidence yet, but will measure:
- Number of customers served (total and daily, by CHW and Care Connection Specialist)
- Efficiency (% of missed calls)
- Biometric screenings completed
- Leading referral service types (from CRC and out to community or NH)
Scaling is underway to embed CHWs inside additional community locations. By connecting services within existing community assets and focusing on the universal needs that most adversely affect health– access to care, food, housing, and workforce development – our Community Health Workers help patients improve management of chronic diseases, health outcomes and overall quality of life. Special consideration is given to the following:
- Location must be trusted and utilized by the community it seeks to serve
- Location must serve individuals experiencing disparities in their health and social outcomes and disproportionate utilization of acute services, signaling lack of access to care
- CHW engagement should be used to strengthen strategic community partnerships, and should be mutually beneficial for NH and the community partner