Category Archives: Community outreach/community health workers
“The time is right for community health workers to be even more [integrated] into the community health system to help achieve the triple aim of better care, better outcomes and lower cost,” said Eduardo Sanchez, MD, MPH, vice president for medical affairs at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas ,who previously served as health commissioner of Texas. Sanchez made his remarks via a recorded presentation at a standing room only session on community health workers this week at the American Public Health Association annual meeting. The session was hosted by the APHA section on community health workers established just two years ago.
The section defines community health workers, who number in the thousands across the U.S., as a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. At the session yesterday, speakers said that this trusting relationship enables a community health worker to serve as a liaison between health and social services and the community. They can also facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery. Dr. Sanchez said that community health workers are also often able to build individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.
Back in 2003, officials from the city of Oakland approached the head of the Alameda County Public Health Department to figure out how to collaborate to tackle the growing problem of violence. They began working together, and with the community, to figure out what was going on. Through a series of rigorous, door-to-door community surveys and community forums, they discovered a complex web of interrelated community issues—as well as a number of powerful community assets and existing partnerships.
Alameda County public health officials presented at the APHA annual meeting on a session about the role of community partners in community-based public health.
Alameda is a county of opposites, according to Liz Maker, Evaluation Specialist at Alameda County Public Health Department—some very poor, some doing amazingly well and in some cases those sections are separated only by a block or a fence.
The City-County Neighborhood Initiative, a partnership between the Alameda County Public Health Department, the City of Oakland, neighborhood resident groups, community-based organizations, the Oakland Unified School District and the University of California, Berkeley, was created to empower residents and support grassroots efforts to create safer neighborhoods and reduce inequities. Partners include a homeowners association, a large community reform church, and local neighborhood committees.