ESAHEC offers community health worker training

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Special to The Dorchester Banner/Lisa Widmaier CHW graduating class of 2014: Front Row: Chardall Kilson, Jasmine Scarborough, Julie Donaldson, Joyce Opher, Hope Roane. Back Row: Matthew Peters, Linette Holland, Shirley Lake, Pat Flory.

CAMBRIDGE — In an ever changing, dynamic healthcare landscape, access to resources and information is vital in order for individuals to make informed decisions to attain and sustain optimal health.  Community Health Workers (CHWs) play an integral role in the effort to bridge the gap between communities and health services while offering a unique understanding of experiences, language, and culture of the people they serve.

What is a Community Health Worker (CHW)? According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), a CHW is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.  A CHW also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.

In an effort to meet the increased demand for CHWs, Eastern Shore Area Health Education Center (ESAHEC) is currently offering Community Health Worker Training under the direction of Lisa Widmaier, Lead Community Health Worker Trainer. ESAHEC’s comprehensive 60-hour program is designed to equip CHWs with practical skills, knowledge and tools to access health information, conduct health education and promotion, assist with disease prevention and chronic disease management, make referrals, coordinate services and navigate the health care system for their clients and communities.

ESAHEC is a leader in Community Health Worker Training on the Eastern Shore and has provided training and consultation to several organizations and groups. To date, the program has trained 27 CHWs who are currently working throughout Maryland. Training topics may include:

• Role and responsibilities of CHWs

• Communication skills

• Basic Outreach methods

• Health disparities

• Cultural competence

• Health promotion competencies covering diet and exercise, heart disease, diabetes, asthma and behavioral health.

• Motivational interviewing

• Care coordination

• Health literacy

• Legal/ethical issues

Here is what some of our recent graduates of the training program have to say:

“The CHW Training gave me the confidence and preparation for a job that I love and enjoy, while serving the community.”

“The training was interactive and fun while providing information.”

“I soaked it up like a sponge. I really enjoyed it!”

For more information regarding ESAHEC’s Community Health Worker Training Program, please call 410-221-2600 or e-mail us at esahecgait@esahec.org.

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