178480 Promoting a Sustainable CHW Workforce: The Massachusetts Experience

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gail Hirsch, MEd , Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston, MA
Lisa Renee Holderby, LSWA , Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers, Shrewsbury, MA
Rebekah Gowler, MSW , School of Social Work, Boston University, Boston, MA
Community health worker (CHW) workforce development is a priority in Massachusetts. Community health workers play a critical role in efforts to increase access to care and reduce health disparities among our vulnerable populations. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health, in collaboration with the statewide CHW professional association (Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers) and key advocates in public and private sectors, is responding to a legislative mandate to develop public health infrastructure that promotes and sustains the workforce. In its 2006 landmark health care reform law, Massachusetts recognized the contribution of CHWs as vital to successful implementation (Section 110, Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006.) The Massachusetts “story” is one of key leaders from public and private sectors collaborating to create ground-breaking systems policies to sustain the CHW field. Challenges and strategies for statewide collaboration will be discussed, and key benchmarks in successful CHW workforce development will be identified.

In Massachusetts, infrastructure building has been essential for effective partnerships. Strengthening the statewide CHW professional association, coordinating and unifying public health department efforts, and building collaborations with key partners in government, health providers, health insurance and health care organizations, and health policy advocates set the stage for action. The MDPH CHW Advisory Council, with essential CHW leadership, is conducting a multi-faceted workforce investigation and developing recommendations to the legislature for a sustainable community health worker program designed to improve health outcomes by increasing access to and utilization of care, eliminating health disparities and reducing inappropriate use of hospital emergency rooms. >

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify essential state partners for public health workforce development. 2) Identify challenges and strategies for statewide community health worker workforce development. 3) Describe key benchmarks in promoting the various components of successful workforce development: policy, public health infrastructure, training, funding and other support.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have coordinated this initiative.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.