The Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA) is spearheading a Community Health Worker (CHW) initiative in Whatcom County. The first phase has been a community assessment, which we recently completed with the generous support of PeaceHealth, United Way and the Chuckanut Health Foundation.
The assessment identified existing CHW programs and roles in local organizations, resources for CHW training and development, and successful CHW programs in other parts of the state. We also selected the Latino community in Sumas, Everson, and Nooksack as a “focus community” and began exploring the possibility of a CHW program in this part of the county by identifying potential partnerships and informal leaders.
The Community Health Worker Assessment Report (full report with attachments is located under “Resources”) describes what we learned and recommends next steps for the CHW Initiative. This is a work in progress and the report may be changed or expanded as CHW efforts evolve and we continue to learn. The information was compiled from many different conversations, documents, and websites. We apologize in advance for any errors or oversights, and welcome your corrections, additions, or comments. Please contact us at 360.788.6594 or email@example.com.
The American Public Health Association defines a CHW as “…a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served.” This trusted relationship enables CHWs to serve as a link between the community and health or social services, as well as help improve the quality and cultural competence of services and programs.
A CHW’s role can include many kinds of activities such as outreach, health education, system navigation, peer support, and advocacy. The Community Health Worker Task Force Recommendations Report for Healthier Washington outlines three unique capabilities of CHWs:
- Relationship and trust-building with communities of color, underserved, or low-income populations,
- Facilitating valuable communication between providers and patients or community members and decision-makers, and
- Addressing the social determinants of health at the individual and community level.
Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement Community Health Worker Initiative
*Report & Summary last revised March 12, 2018
Whatcom County Organizations with CHW Programs:
- Sea Mar Community Health Centers’ Promotores Program
- Health Ministries Network
- Unity Care Northwest Community Health Center
- Western Washington University’s Peer Health Educator Program
- Nooksack Indian Tribe Health Department Medical Clinic
- Lummi Tribal Health Center
NOTE: There are numerous other Whatcom County organizations with staff who perform some CHW-like functions; please see the Assessment Report for more information.
- Community Health Worker Task Force Recommendations Report for Healthier Washington, Washington Health Care Authority
- Community Health Worker Training Program, Washington State Department of Health
- Eastern Washington CHW Network
- CHW Collaborative of Pierce County
- Healthy Living Coalition of Southwest Washington
- Oregon Community Health Worker Association
- Traditional Health Worker Program, Oregon Health Authority
- Community Health Worker Research and Education Consortium and the Community Health Worker Common Indicator Summit Report, Oregon Consensus
- Implementation Guide for Community Partnership Model, Familias en Accion
- Support for Community Health Workers to Increase Health Access and to Reduce Health Inequities, American Public Health Association
- Community Health Worker Research, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
- Community Health Worker Toolkit, Rural Health Information Hub
- CHW Common Core (C3) Project, California Association of Community Health Workers
- Community Health Worker Initiative, University of New Mexico
Special thanks to Chuckanut Health Foundation, PeaceHealth, Whatcom Community Foundation, and United Way of Whatcom County for supporting the Whatcom County CHW Initiative.