IPHA works to boost Community Health Worker visibility
CHWs can help patients better understand the services available to them
The Illinois Public Health Association is working to raise awareness of the need for community health workers across the state.
Community Health Workers can be found in public health departments and other organizations, and serve as patient navigators, advocates, and more.
Doctor Tracey Smith is the Director of Community Health and Programs at the IPHA. She says CHW's can help people in underserved areas get the care they need.
"When you have chronic disease, a lot of times, you just don't feel good, either. So, if you're supposed to go to five or six different sites, and figure out ten different steps to get your medications done, there's a point where you may just say, 'It's not worth it, I'm just not going to do it. I'm too exhausted.' That's a great place where CHW's can step in and help."
Smith says community colleges in southern Illinois are working on training for CHW's, as well as programs to help people sharpen their skills if they're already working in the healthcare field.
She says as the need grows, funding is getting easier to find for public health departments and other organizations to start their own CHW programs, too.
You can get more information on Community Health Workers by calling your local health department, or going to www.ipha.com.