Kettering College gets $1.8m to launch community health worker program

“It’s in the community. It is designed to connect the community to healthcare,” said Dr Paula Reams, Dean of Nursing at Kettering College, of Community Health Workers. “It’s about taking people who know this community very well and know who to contact so that they can get people to the health care they need, not just when they’re already sick, but to prevent them. getting sick is our goal. ”

The Ohio Board of Nursing oversees the licensing of community health workers, but community health workers focus more on public health than providing direct health care to patients.

“They don’t have a lot of experience caring for sick people,” Reams said. “It’s more about knowing what’s in the community, where it is and how to connect people to that care. Reams added that community health workers can provide basic health care to assess what an individual might need, but their main job is to help the community connect with other providers.

Community health workers are oriented to urban and rural areas to address the specific challenges in these areas. The community health worker is considered a frontline public health worker, according to the American Public Health Association (APHA).

In an effort to connect directly with community members, community health workers can be placed in an area, such as schools, public health departments, senior centers, etc.

“They can be anywhere in the community where people are,” Reams said.

Program organizers also seek to train community health workers who already live in or participate in the community that the health worker will eventually serve.

“That familiarity breeds trust with the community, and that trust means they can pass on information and it will be taken seriously,” said Pamela Jacques, grant administration manager at Kettering Health.

“If you go to a community and you don’t know the community and you don’t know the people in the community, you can have this great idea of ​​lowering high blood pressure…but you’re not going anywhere unless you go to the right person,” Reams said.

APHA asserts that the relationship of trust between a community health worker and the area they serve enables the worker to facilitate access to health and social services and improve the quality and cultural competence of the community. service delivery. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute also notes that having a community health worker in an area is associated with better access to health services, increased health screenings, better understanding and communication between patients and healthcare providers, improved adherence to health recommendations, and reduced need for emergency and specialist services.

The $1.8 million grant will be used to hire a coordinator to help develop the community health worker training program, which they say will be a three to six month program. Grant funds can also be used to remove barriers that may prevent someone from continuing their education in this program, such as child care or transportation costs.

“If we really want to bring people from the communities we want to serve, they’re going to have the same barriers as the people we want to go into the community and help,” Jacques said. “Today we know that many social determinants of health decide what we can do and how far we can go with things, and these social determinants of health must be taken into account for people to do things like probably going to a three-month program and then being able to go on and get certified and go get a job in the community.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also underscored the need for a community health worker training program, Reams said.

“It was needed for a long time,” Reams said.

Kettering College expects classes for the new program to start in March or April next year. Those interested in more information about this program can contact Jessica Allen of Kettering College at

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