A Community Health Worker (CHW) serves as a frontline liaison, guiding individuals and families through the health, social and community services systems to foster health and well-being.
As a trusted member of the community, the CHW is sensitive to the demographics and experiences of community members and provides culturally and linguistically competent and appropriate services. CHWs have the skills and capacity to address the social determinants of health to achieve better health outcomes and health equity for the populations and communities served.
Community Health Workers do things that nurses, doctors, and social workers do not. They sit with patients on the front porch and talk about the struggles of daily life: the grief of losing children to violence; the embarrassment of not being able to pay bills; the confusion of coordinating complex medical care. CHWs provide both emotional and instrumental support. They can go with patients to community centers and smoking cessation classes, read through insurance forms, or exercise together at the local gym.