Hamilton Community Health Network offers Community Health Workers as a resource and support system to our patients. Community Health Workers (CHWs) are trained to become aware of a patient’s health from their overall physical and mental health to their environmental health as well – such as housing, transportation, health insurance and even food. They are experts in navigating systems of care, serving as a link between clinical and community-based services and the patients who need them most. They advocate on behalf of patients and can even act as a bridge between patients and clinicians and even help patients improve their ability to manage their own chronic conditions.
At Hamilton, CHWs work with several patients at each of our clinics. CHWs work beyond making sure the patient is taking his or her medication. They help in many areas of life including, being someone who the patient can talk with because sometimes that is what the patient needs. Their overall role is to support the patient’s health plan and help patients understand the importance of following his or her doctor’s instructions.
Beyond following doctor’s plans, CHWs help patients be proactive about their help and provide education to help improve the patient’s health. For example, many adults in our area have high blood pressure. A CHW can assist patients by encouraging lifestyle changes such as more physical activity or making healthy food choices. By focusing on some lifestyle changes, we may be able to avoid medications. Medications are important, but if the CHW can help serve a patient by helping to prevent a patient from having to take medications, then that’s success.
Many patients within our communities are coping with behavioral health problems, domestic violence, substance abuse and even parenting issues. CHWs can assist with these problems and be a liaison for the patient. CHWs also help patients schedule appointments.
Currently, we have four Community Health Workers, John Chandler, My’a Warren, Erin Coney, and Tiah Barnett, who are each assigned to a clinic but also travel between clinics. Our providers refer patients who they feel need the support of a Community Health Worker. If you feel you would benefit from this support, let your provider know. Community Health Workers are trusted resources and are here to help.