A community health worker is a front line public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding to the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

A community health worker also builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy (American Public Health Association CHW definition).

A CHW proactively:

  • Builds individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy
  • Serves as a liaison between communities and health care agencies
  • Provides guidance and social assistance to community residents
  • Provides culturally and linguistically appropriate health education
  • Enhances community residents’ ability to effectively communicate with healthcare providers
  • Advocates for individual and community health
  • Provides referral and follow-up services or otherwise coordinates care
  • Identifies and helps enroll eligible individuals in federal, state, and local private or nonprofit health and human services programs.

CHW Training

The 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health  is now certified to train community health workers. Two staff members and two community members are fully trained as certified CHW Instructors through the Pathways Community HUB Institute and train current and future CHWs in Cambria and Somerset counties and across the United States.

CHW training aligns with Pennsylvania Certification Board Standards and the Pathways Community HUB Institute is an approved training provider through the PA Certification Board. If you or your organization are interested in receiving CHW training, email CPHinfo@jefferson.edu.

Staff members who are certified as instructors are Kimberly Roberts, Quality Assurance, and Leanna Bird, Project Manager. Dr. Deborah Gentile and Carol Harding, RN, FCN are certified community members. CHW instructors, who specialize in either health education or care coordination, are trained to provide CHW instruction that aligns with Pennsylvania Certification CHW Standards and with the Pathways Community HUB model.

CHW Instructor Training was made possible through funding from the Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge (HCCC), a program of the American Public Health Association, with funding from the Aetna Foundation. The HCC aims to accelerate systems-level approaches to curate collaborative and community-led initiatives that improve community health. 1889 Foundation, in partnership with 1889 Jefferson Center for Population Health, received funding through HCCC to support the work of the Community Care HUB and is leading one of the 20 teams chosen across the U.S. to participate in the Challenge.

Healthiest Cities and Counties Challenge

Certification

CHWs who are trained and have field experience may be eligible to apply for CHW certification through the Pennsylvania Certification Board. All community Care HUB CHWs either possess their CHW certification or are working toward it. Community Health Worker certification aligns with Pennsylvania CHW standards.

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