The Louisiana Community Health Worker Workforce Study Committee Report
Meredith Sugarman, MPH
Pascaline Ezouah, BS
Ashley Wennerstrom, PhD, MPH
Center for Healthcare Value and Equity
Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center – New Orleans
Community health workers (CHWs) are frontline public health professionals who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the communities they serve. Through a variety of activities such as health education, outreach, and connecting underserved populations to resources, CHWs improve health outcomes, reduce hospitalizations and emergency department use, decrease health care costs, and enhance quality of care. Moreover, CHWs address the social determinants that influence health, such as housing, food, and education by connecting people to community resources. They can also help improve the community conditions that can lead to poor health.
CHWs are currently underutilized in Louisiana. In 2019, the Louisiana Legislature created the Louisiana Community Health Worker Workforce Study Committee (Committee) to provide the Louisiana Department of Health with recommendations on how best to support and expand this workforce.
The Committee examined major CHW policy issues, including options for training CHWs and financing their positions. In addition to reviewing best practices and examining peer-reviewed literature, the Committee collected data about Louisiana CHW and employer perspectives on workforce development issues through a survey and in-depth interviews. Sixty-five CHWs and 37 employers participated in the survey. Additionally, 21 CHWs and 15 employers completed an interview.
Access the Full Report HERE
The study does not appear to have addressed the importance of occupational health and safety training and knowledge. In Massachusetts we have found that community health workers would very much like to receive such training so that they can help their clients, as well as protect their own health and well-being. We have developed a curriculum on this topic.