Community Health Workers Recruitment from Within: an Inner-city neighborhood-driven framework

Seq ID: 327
DocID: NJ10
Authors: Shahidi H, Sickora C, Clancy S, Nagurka R
Year: 2015
State: NJ
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Publicly Available: Yes
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Background: Community health workers (CHWs) are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of and/or have an unusually close understanding of the community served (APHA 2009). Among other roles, they are effective in closing critical communication gap between healthcare providers and patients as they possess key abilities to overcome cultural barriers, minimize disparities, and maximize adherence to clinical directions. In previous descriptions of the selection of CHWs, the role of community is clearly emphasized, but residence in the community is not indicated. Objective: We present an effective model of CHW selection by the community of members that reside in the community to be served. Methods: We outlined and implemented necessary steps for recruiting CHWs from within their target neighborhood between years 2011 and 2013. The identified community was an “isolated” part of Newark, New Jersey comprised of approximately 3000 people residing in three publicly-funded housing developments. We utilized a community empowerment model and established a structure of self-governance in the community of interest. In all phases of identification and selection of CHWs, the Community Advisory Board (CAB) played a leading role. Results: The process for the successful development of a CHW initiative in an urban setting begins with community/
resident engagement and ends with employment of trained CHWs. The steps needed are: (1) community site identification; (2) resident engagement; (3) health needs assessment; (4) CHW identification and recruitment; and (5) training
and employment of CHWs. Using an empowered community model, we successfully initiated CHW selection, training, and recruitment. Thirteen CHW candidates were selected and approved by the community. They entered a 10-week
training program and ten CHWs completed the training. We employed these ten CHWs. Conclusions: These five steps emerged from a retrospective review of our CHW initiative. Residing in the community served has significant advantages and disadvantages. Community empowerment is critical in changing the health indices of marginalized communities.

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