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Healthy Gen Rolls Out Community Health Worker Integration Pilot Program

Monday, February 12, 2018   (0 Comments)
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Sarah Solomon, Assistant Director of Evaluation at Healthy Gen


Sarah and her colleagues will be presenting on this topic at NWRPCA's Western Forum for Migrant and Community Health


In September of 2016, Healthy Gen, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Health, began its Community Health Worker (CHW) Integration Pilot program.


CHWs serve as a bridge between the community and health care, government and social service systems. The objective of the pilot program is to integrate one CHW into each primary care clinic to address chronic disease prevention and management, with an emphasis on diabetes, hypertension, and screening for breast, cervical, and colon cancer.


The pilot is located in six clinics across five Accountable Communities of Health regions. Clinics include CHAS Health in Spokane, Community Health Care Eastside Tanbera Clinic in Tacoma, Family Health Centers in Okanogan, Free Clinic of Southwest Washington in Vancouver, Port Gamble S'Klallam Health Clinic, and Sea Mar Community Health Centers in Vancouver.




A supervisor from a pilot program clinic said, “CHWs don’t believe people are just being non-compliant, they look for a reason and offer a solution. These things, especially around access to healthy food and education, are so important. Not only can [the CHW] do this, but she can provide it for the Spanish speaking community.”


Each clinic has a unique community focus. For example, Sea Mar is addressing uncontrolled diabetes among a caseload of Spanish-speaking patients, while CHAS Health’s primary focus has been increasing access to free clinic services within the uninsured Marshallese community in Spokane.


As part of the pilot program, Healthy Gen provides technical assistance to support clinics’ program design and implementation. They also facilitate trainings, discussions, networking opportunities, and semi-annual learning collaborative meetings with CHWs, supervisors and other clinic staff so they can share successes, challenges and set common goals. Interviews throughout the project are conducted to identify common issues and achievements with integrating CHWs into primary care clinics. A few key lessons learned so far include:

  • Defining the CHW’s role and responsibilities is a challenge. Setting the scope of work so other staff understand that role—and function as a team—yet preserve flexibility for CHWs to meet client and community needs is a true balancing act.
  • Ongoing communication is critical to success. Supervisors play an important role in helping other staff understand the role of CHWs and integrating them into care teams. Supervising is a big job, and supervisors need dedicated time, training and support, too.
  • CHWs are successful with patients that clinics have struggled to support. Pilot sites report measurable increases in patient engagement in services and improved health outcomes.




“I think this an important part of our business,” remarked a CEO from one of the pilot clinics. “We need to do better engagement of our consumer, and CHWs are a key part of this.”


This month, at the NWRPCA conference, Sarah Salomon of Healthy Gen, Andrew Taylor, and representatives from each of the pilot clinics will facilitate an interactive session about the lessons learned from the CHW Integration Pilot, focusing perspectives, experiences and advice for successful CHW integration.


Andrew Taylor


Don’t miss this opportunity to have in-depth discussions with 10 CHWs and supervisors working in clinical settings. The discussion will cover defining the CHW’s role, key roles played by CHW supervisors to support successful integration, and collecting data to show success and identify opportunities for quality improvement.




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