The University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Sustainable
Health Outreach (CSHO) recently received a $481,250 grant from the
Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The appropriation
will fund CSHO's continuing work as the only national center promoting
community health worker programs in the United States.
workers are people who work in the communities they call home, acting
as liaisons between their clients and the health care system. Their
familiarity with the people they serve and the problems those people
face makes them an invaluable part of the health and human services
community health workers are serving those hard-to-reach, underserved
populations," said Jennifer Downey, CSHO's communications director.
"They address barriers, such as language and culture, that
have kept those folks from appropriately accessing the traditional
health and human services systems."
Dr. Agnes Hinton, said that community health workers are key components
of the health care system.
health workers are essential, integral, and powerful promoters of
health, wellness and disease prevention in their communities,"
Hinton said. "They are often the key to overcoming the communication
barriers between community members and service providers. Their
services can be really quite invaluable."
by which community health workers serve their communities vary widely.
Some focus only on specific ailments while others work with a variety
of problems; some work virtually "door to door" while
others are based out of specific clinics and hospitals.
health workers are there to, first of all, take away the fear associated
with the health and human services systems, and to let people know
what resources are available to them," Downey said. "They're
also there to spot signs and symptoms of problems, so that they
can then help those folks to get care. They can also serve as patient
navigators who help them access those services - staying there with
them in the emergency room, and acting as a translator if necessary
between that patient and the health care providers."
These are members
of the health care process who are "in the trenches,"
The grant recently
received by CSHO is a continuation of the 1999 appropriation that
originally funded the center, which was created by co-directors
Hinton and Jason Newman, esq., director of the Harrison Institute
for Public Law of the Georgetown University Law Center. Offices
for the CSHO were set up at Southern Miss and at Georgetown.
has a national focus, Southern Miss' staff has supported the implementation
of a number of community health worker programs in Mississippi.
These include 10 maternal/infant health outreach worker programs
and the Deep South Network for Cancer Control in Forrest and Jones
counties and nine delta counties.