CHW Information for Employers
A community health worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of the community served. As part of a healthcare team, CHWs can strengthen links between health services, social services, and communities to facilitate access, and to improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.
Given CHWs’ deeper understanding of their community’s needs and barriers, CHWs are often best positioned to provide social support during a public health event and response. They can serve as a listening ear during a lonely time, help to arrange food delivery or utilities assistance, advocate with landlords, explain the changing rules for benefits, promote health behavior, reinforce emergency public health messaging, and more.
Rhode Island-based employers may learn more about CHW healthcare team integration in Community Health Workers in Rhode Island: Growing a Public Health Workforce for a Healthier State (RIDOH, 2018). This study gathered information from employers of CHWs across Rhode Island to share their diverse perspectives to sustain and expand this important link in the state’s healthcare workforce.
Employers of CHWs and other providers who are interested in expanding their healthcare teams to include CHWs are encouraged to access online trainings, resources, and best practices to train and build the capacity of CHWs in their organizations and communities. Trusted national and local CHW resources for employers include:
Get Reimbursed by RI-Medicaid for CHW Services
Some CHW services are now covered for reimbursement by RI-Medicaid. Healthcare providers and other employers may learn more at RIDOH's web page for CHWs about Medicaid Reimbursement or visit the EOHHS website with complete manual for Rhode Island.
Ensure Workplace Safety for CHWs
Employers play an important role in ensuring the safety of their CHW workforce and community members during their workdays, whether managing typical day-to-day responsibilities or taking an expanded role during public health responses and other extraordinary events. Examples include the recent COVID-19 pandemic response, other infectious disease outbreaks, natural and manmade disasters, mass casualty events, and other emergency preparedness and response events. By incorporating preventive measures and trainings, employers can better ensure the health and safety of CHWs as they perform essential services in their communities. These steps can also help protect an organization from liability and risk.
CHWs’ workplace settings may vary within communities. All healthcare providers and other employers of CHWs in Rhode Island should follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for their clinical settings, outpatient settings, and wherever their CHWs may perform their work duties. More
Promote Self-Care and Well-Being
The National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW) recommends the following resources to help support CHWs, especially during times of extreme stress. These resources can be helpful to CHWs and to other staff: