Community Health Worker Initiative

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The Initiative has two main strategies: Creating a county-wide CHW Network and developing a CHW Project in the Sumas, Everson, Nooksack area.
  • The Whatcom CHW Network started in April 2018. It brings CHWs together to get to know each other, share the work they’re doing, and support each other. WAHA’s goal is to support CHWs in deciding what kind of support and action will be the most useful to them. The Network meets monthly at different members’ locations; for information on upcoming meetings, please click here and remember to bookmark this URL to stay up to date on the Whatcom CHW Network Meetings: www.whatcomalliance.org/chwnetwork/
  • The Latino Community Voice CHW Project is working on identifying trusted community members/natural helpers in the Latino community in Sumas, Everson, and Nooksack. WAHA is also learning about community assets, needs and priorities through a series of community gatherings in April and May 2018, as well as continuing to develop partnerships with the Nooksack Valley School District, churches, community organizations, and businesses.  How the Project develops will depend on community members’ interests and priorities, and where the needs and opportunities are.
Click Here to go to our CHW Network Page!
Our long term vision:
  • To create a county-wide CHW Network to support CHWs in their work.
  • To be a partner in a CHW Project with the Latino community in Sumas, Everson, and Nooksack
  • To ensure there is communication and coordination with other CHW efforts across the region and state, including training, program development, and policy work.

Resources:

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:    

  1. Relationship and trust-building with communities of color, underserved, or low-income populations,
  2. Facilitating valuable communication between providers and patients or community members and decision-makers, and
  3. Addressing the social determinants of health at the individual and community level.

The first phase of our initiative was a community assessment, which we finalized in January of 2018 with the generous support of PeaceHealth, United Way of Whatcom County, 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 info@whatcomalliance.org to request any changes.

Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement Community Health Worker Initiative

Whatcom County Organizations with CHW Programs:

NOTE: There are numerous other Whatcom County organizations with staff who perform some CHW-like functions; please see the Assessment Report for more information.

Special thanks to Chuckanut Health Foundation, PeaceHealth, Whatcom Community Foundation, and United Way of Whatcom County for supporting the Whatcom County CHW Initiative.