Public Health Agencies

How CHWs Help Public Health Agencies

ASL2Public health agencies across the country face mounting challenges coupled with tight budgets. In Minnesota the public health workforce is aging and does not reflect our state’s ever more diverse population. This is an opportunity for new staffing models in order to build greater capacity and get better outcomes with limited tax dollars.

Our state’s 2012 Roadmap to a Healthier Minnesota, Healthy Minnesota 2020 and the State’s Innovation Model award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services all include CHW strategies to help meet their ambitious goals.

  • Are you encountering challenges in recruiting breastfeeding support peer educators from diverse communities?
    • Consider contracting with or hiring CHWs with breastfeeding experience to play this important role with members of their own communities.
  • Are you finding that you have waiting lists, refusals and uneven results for maternal and child health home visiting programs?
    • The addition of CHWs to team-based home visiting programs can build trust, staffing capacity and better results. In Milwaukee, public health nurses and CHWs have worked on teams for several decades. Nurses report that the rapport and trust that CHWs foster is essential to paving the way to an effective relationship with clients.
  • Are you finding an increased acuity rate among new refugee arrivals, e.g. immediate need for medication, kidney dialysis, hospice care or other services?
    • Major health needs can overwhelm refugee families who are attempting to navigate the unfamiliar and complicated health care system while also seeking employment, attending school and learning a new way of life. Bilingual CHWs working in teams with a nurse and/or social worker can help families learn how to navigate the care system and follow-through with care plans in a culturally and linguistically-appropriate way.

Spotlight: MVNA

MVNA, which serves as the public health nursing arm for the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support, is planning to hire hire 10 CHWs over the coming year to team with the agency’s public health nurses in order to better meet the needs of their patients with a community-centered, sustainable model.