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Community Health Workers Improve Patient Care

Community Health Workers (CHWs) are critical for improving quality improvement initiatives because they provide insight into patient needs and the patient experience.

As trusted members of the communities they work in, CHWs see firsthand the gaps that exist in health and social service delivery. CHWs also have the benefit of working closely with staff and service providers, allowing them to integrate a variety of perspectives when problem-solving. Including CHWs in patient care teams ensures that health systems are designed with affected communities in mind.

The Community Health Worker Collaborative of South Dakota (CHWSD) is working to promote, support, and sustain the CHW profession in South Dakota. The CHWSD has adopted the American Public Health Association (APHA) definition of a CHW, “A Community Health Worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.”

In collaboration with the South Dakota Department of Health, the CHWSD developed the SD Community Health Worker Planning and Assessment Toolkit to provide organizations and health systems with resources to hire and integrate CHWs into their teams.

The SD Community Health Worker Planning and Assessment Toolkit Includes:

  • Overview of the CHW profession
  • Talking points for engaging decision-makers
  • Sample job description and interview guide
  • Best practices for integrating CHWs into clinical teams
  • Recommendations for CHW funding and demonstrating return on investment

The toolkit is free to use and can be accessed in either a self-paced format or as a continuing education course. Two (2) CEUs are available for medical providers, nurses, social workers, counselors, addiction and prevention professionals, pharmacists, and dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants.

For more information and to access the toolkit,visit www.chwsd.org or email info@chwsd.org.

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