Health Careers Futures Board Discusses Community Health Worker Progress
On March 1, the Health Careers Futures (HCF) Board met to discuss progress in supporting community health workers, especially those in maternal health work. In 2022, the HCF Board will devote much attention to the frontline workforce and the roles and opportunities to build, train, and support community health workers in a range of settings, serving a variety of types of clients or patients.
Co-Chairs Pat Siger and Eric Rodriguez, MD gave the welcome along with Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) President and CEO Karen Wolk Feinstein, PhD. Dr. Feinstein and JHF staff members HIV/AIDS Project Director Richard Smith, MSW, COO and Chief Program Officer Nancy Zionts, MBA, and Chief Policy Officer Robert Ferguson, MPH then shared an overview of JHF's and HCF's years-long history with community health workers for seniors, people living with HIV/AIDS, and other populations.
Dr. Feinstein was inspired by the efforts of community health workers during a study tour in Africa and resolved to advance the model in the United States. In 2014, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) supported the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation (NEHI) in convening a national Community Health Worker Summit to explore quality improvement and cost reduction with an expanded CHW workforce. This led to a JHF-NEHI collaboration on a 2015 issue brief, "Community Health Workers: Getting the Job Done in Healthcare Delivery," highlighting community health worker best practices. Robert Ferguson has been a major leader and contributor to achieving JHF's successes in advancing community health worker discussion and policy at the state level, especially getting community health workers certified and reimbursed. With Ferguson in the lead, JHF organized a 2015 Community Health Worker Statewide Summit in Harrisburg, which led to the creation and ongoing work of the PA Community Health Worker Steering Group and Task Forces on Policy, Training, and Employment. Through programmatic work, JHF demonstrates the benefit of community health workers through the Minority AIDS Initiative, a doula community health worker program of the Women's Health Activist Movement Global (WHAMglobal) and the Allegheny Health Network Center for Inclusion Health, and the Community Health Worker Champions Program to support seniors. JHF also included community health workers in the Community HealthChoices education program. These successes inspired the move towards training and accreditation for community health workers, and JHF piloted Pennsylvania's first Certified Community Health Worker Apprenticeship Program and graduated the first cohort in 2020.
Robert Ferguson then presented the 2022 PA doula workforce goals. These include getting doula certification and reimbursement fast tracked and getting the PA Midwifery Modernization Bill passed. Certified midwife Emily McGahey, DM, MSN, CNM, state legislative committee co-chair of the PA Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives, then shared information on the Midwifery Modernization Act.
To end the meeting, Dr. Feinstein shared updates and announcements of JHF Fellowships and internships for 2022.
In reflecting on global community health efforts, JHF pays tribute to Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, who unexpectedly passed away on February 21 in Rwanda. In addition to being a world-renowned infectious disease doctor, anthropologist, global health advocate, and author, Dr. Farmer was the founder of Partners in Health, a global health and social justice organization focused on providing care and strengthening public health systems around the world.