Health Care Access Now (HCAN) received $100 thousand from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to further develop its Community Health Worker (CHW) workforce. CHWs are critical in the fight against systemic racism in public policy and health.
- People in historically marginalized communities face significant healthcare inequities and are negatively impacted by social determinants of health. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated those issues.
- CHWs, trained and dispatched by HCAN, work with pregnant, pediatric, and adult clients with chronic conditions to break down barriers to wellness and improve health outcomes.
- The recruitment period for additional CHWs began in September of this year. HCAN aims to recruit and train two new cohorts, totaling 30 new CHWs, by the end of May 2023.
HCAN acts as the Certified Pathways Community Hub in Southwest Ohio (Hub). CHWs use the Hub as a framework for identify and removing obstacles to clients’ good health outcomes. Its goal for this project is to expand access to CHW services, thereby addressing social determinants of health, advancing equity, and eliminating health disparities in the region.
Health Care Access Now (HCAN) was awarded $100 thousand by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to expand its Community Health Worker (CHW) workforce. CHWs interact one-on-one with people in marginalized communities who face obstacles to achieving good health outcomes.
Data from the Greater Cincinnati 2021 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) shows that individuals in historically marginalized communities across our region face significant healthcare inequities and are significantly more impacted by social determinants of health. For example, “Black/African American individuals, relative to white individuals, are significantly more likely to have unmet health needs for dental and allergy-related concerns, as well as mental health.”
“CHWs play an essential role in reaching people who are more likely to face difficulty accessing consistent medical care and insurance coverage,” says Sarah Mills, HCAN CEO. “Some of the most effective CHWs come from the communities they serve, which helps them understand the particular obstacles clients face.”
CHWs undergo HCAN’s certification program and are trained to work with pregnant, pediatric, and adult clients with chronic conditions. Their mission is to help clients break down barriers to wellness and navigate the complicated matrix of social services systems, thereby improving health outcomes. Since 2018, 108 students from across the state of Ohio have graduated from the program.
The money awarded by the ODH will allow HCAN to recruit and train two new cohorts of CHWs. A total of 30 CHWs will be trained under this grant and ready to enter the workforce by May of 2023. This will significantly expand the public’s access to CHW services. Because CHWs address social determinants of health (such as access to transportation or nutritional food), they are integral to the process of advancing equity and eliminating health disparities throughout both the region and the state.
“CHWs improve health outcomes,” Mills says. “The more that we have in the field, the better able we are to reach underserved populations.”
HCAN is thrilled to have received this sizeable grant, which will allow it to expand a program that makes a true difference in the lives of the region’s residents.