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:

Civic Advocacy, Leadership, and Engagement Training: As a Community Health Worker (CHW), you know the COVID-19 pandemic has hit your community the hardest and shed light on existing problems in our healthcare system. You help bridge the gap to get community members the care they need. Now, you can help them speak up for lasting health system reforms! As part of Community Voices for Health—Georgia (CVHG), statewide consumer health advocacy organizations are offering FREE Civic Advocacy, Leadership, and Engagement Training starting in August.

You will learn how to become an ambassador for your community. The training will equip you with:

  • A Certificate in CHW Advocacy, Leadership, and Engagement.
  • A working knowledge of advocacy best practices.
  • Resources to:
    • Mobilize marginalized communities around policy issues.
    • Train peers, patrons, clients, and students in advocacy.
    • Georgia Watch will provide ongoing support to help participants organize their own workshops on grassroots advocacy. 

Register with your location so we can select a training site close to you; we will send out schedules when we do. Accommodations may be provided for those traveling over an hour. As a participant, you must commit to:

  • Attending all six 60-90 minutes sessions in-person or virtually; in-person sessions will be split over two days (one afternoon and one morning—lunch and breakfast provided).
  • Conducting 1-2 advocacy training workshops for your community members.

SPACE IS LIMITED!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

COVID-19, Vaccines, and CHWs: A Conversation with Georgia CEAL. Hosted by the Georgia Community Engagement Alliance (Georgia CEAL) and the Community Health Worker Advocacy Coalition, the first conversation occurred on December 7, 2020, 3pm – 4:30pm and discussed a new initiative on COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine trials in Georgia. The conversation provided a forum where related questions and concerns of particular interest to CHWs (including issues of mis/trust and more) could be addressed. Stay tuned for details about follow-up conversations.


Our Statement in Solidarity with Black Lives Matter:
COVID-19 Information and Resources:
Click here to download

Click here to download the COVID-19 factsheet


Helpful Advocacy Factsheets and Guides:

Georgia Community Health Worker: Business Case

Integrating Community Health Workers in Georgia

Connecting Rural Georgians with Community Health Workers