Community Health Workers and Access to Care

A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a frontline health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has a demonstrated working knowledge of the community and individuals served. CHWs often share life experiences, language, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status with the community in which they serve, increasing their understanding of patient needs and concerns.

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CHWs have an essential role given their unique position to help interpret information, address socioeconomic needs, provide connections to resources, and develop trusting relationships with populations that have greater needs and face barriers to entry into the healthcare system. A CHW builds individual and community capacity by increasing self-sufficiency and health knowledge of community members through empowerment, education, outreach, counseling, social support and advocacy. CHWs, also known as promotoras, outreach workers, community health aids, health promoters, and many other names function in a variety of roles and typically reside within the community that they serve.

Improving health equity is key to our organization’s vision, and promoting healthcare access is one of our strategic goals.  We know that community health workers (CHWs) can help reduce disparities for vulnerable populations in our state. Since 2017, Georgia Watch has served on the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Georgia Community Health Worker Advisory Board. As the policy and advocacy organization representative on this Advisory Board, Georgia Watch is now leading an advocacy coalition to gather support for a statewide certification and training program for CHWs in Georgia. About 80 individuals representing nearly 50 organizations participate in the Georgia CHW Advocacy Coalition. Creating a statewide CHW certification program is key to providing recognition for this growing group of health professionals and also for obtaining reimbursement from third party payors for their services. As a multi-issue consumer advocacy organization, we understand how important it is to help patients address issues in their lives with income, housing, healthy eating, and mental and social health in order to become well and stay well. We have brought a useful and knowledgeable consumer advocacy voice to the conversation at the Georgia Department of Public Health about encouraging use of the CHW model in Georgia.


Announcements and Opportunities:

Georgia CHW Professional Development Opportunities. Hosted by the Department of Public Health, this will be a four-part webinar series that offers Community Health Workers the opportunity for professional development in various focus areas. This series is designed to increase participants awareness and understanding, as well as provide resources for everyday use. The topics and webinar dates are as follows:

  • August 25th Boundary Setting for CHWs (Self-care) 
  • September 1st The Basics of Asthma Control 
  • September 8th Evidence-Based Home Visiting (Maternal and Child Health) 
  • September 15th – Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening: the Role of the CHW 

For more information about this series, please contact chwprogram@dph.ga.gov or sign up to register HERE.

The CHW Conversations. The Georgia CHW Advocacy Coalition and partners are amplifying efforts to reach, engage and connect all CHWs in Georgia to strengthen our CHW profession and support the growth and development of all CHWs in the state. The conversations are a virtual platform for CHWs, developed and facilitated by CHWs, designed to connect and support CHWs as we network, share knowledge and information about our lives, roles, projects and self-care activities. The first Conversation will take place in August 2020. Please email durrell_fox@jsi.com for more information.


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Helpful Advocacy Factsheets and Guides:

Georgia Community Health Worker: Business Case

Integrating Community Health Workers in Georgia

Connecting Rural Georgians with Community Health Workers