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What is a Community Health Worker?

We talk a lot about Community Health Workers, or CHWs. In our group prenatal care program, we use CHWs to co-facilitate group sessions along with Certified Nurse Midwives. So exactly what are Community Health Workers?

Community Health Workers are dynamic, frontline public health workers who have a very close understanding of and relationship with the community that they serve. Often they grew up and still live in the community that they now work in, which helps them build trust amongst their patients and those they serve.

Community Health Workers act as links from healthcare systems to communities, helping to connect people to healthcare, social services, and everything they need to live a healthy life. CHWs improve the way our healthcare systems can deliver care by making them more culturally competent and helping to improve quality.

CHWs help improve people’s knowledge and understanding of health issues, often doing a lot of outreach and education inside a community. The job duties of a Community Health Worker vary greatly, because there are so many different types of organizations and settings that can utilize a Community Health Worker’s skills. Some CHWs may help patients manage their diabetes, others may go to elderly patients’ homes to check on them and provide basic care. The list of tasks that CHWs can perform in the healthcare industry and beyond is continually growing!

WIN Network: Detroit CHW, Nada, meets with her group prenatal care participant April and baby Ava.

WIN Network: Detroit’s Community Health Workers help connect moms and families to resources such as food, housing, and transportation. They work with women one-on-one to make sure moms are ready for a healthy pregnancy, birth, and baby. Our CHWs also work with moms to create vision boards that lay out life plans and goals, and strategies to reach these goals.

WIN Network: Detroit CHWs: Felicia, Linda, and Nada.

Our Community Health Workers, Nada, Linda, and Felicia, are all native Detroiters and have raised their own children in Detroit, making them experts on helping WIN Network: Detroit mothers and families navigate our cities resources and healthcare systems to have a healthy baby. They know what it’s like to raise a family in Detroit.

Felicia holds one of her group prenatal care mom’s babies at a group prenatal care reunion.

Community Health Workers provide much-needed support to WIN Network moms and families. CHWs are what we like to call the “secret sauce” of WIN Network. CHWs allow us to ensure moms and babies in Detroit survive and thrive well beyond their first birthdays.

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