Community Health Worker Awareness Day 2024

Empowering Change: Atlanta Hosts Influential Community Health Worker Awareness Day


Monday February 12, 2024, 10 am

ATLANTA, February 12, 2024, Central Presbyterian Church and Georgia State Capitol:
On a day of heavy rain and generally inclement weather, more than 300 CHWs/Promotores and supporters braved the conditions to assemble for what was an historic awareness day. The weather outside was in stark contrast to the warmth and conviviality generally on display all around the room, as CHWs/Promotores from across the state renewed acquaintances or greeted each other knowing of their common commitment as fellow health workers.

Natasha Taylor welcomed everyone and introduced herself as the person behind the many email messages that provided details of the awareness day. After highlighting the general theme of “CHANGE AGENTS: ENGAGING AND UPLIFING GEORGIA COMMUNITIES”, she went on to share “What is a community health worker” as stated in the program which included the following:

“A Community Health Worker (CHW/Promotores) is a frontline health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has demonstrated working knowledge of the community and individuals served. ……. CHW’s are connectors, bridging the gap between the community and medical and social services…….”

Up first from what was an outstanding cadre of subject matter experts was Kia Toodle, Georgia Department of Public Health.
In what was a powerful and sincerely delivered presentation, Kia Toodle emphatically underscored the importance of recognizing the “social determinants of health” on public health policies and priorities. The issue of the social determinants would be a recurring theme for the day. Her impassioned plea for CHW/Promotores certification, based on recognized core competency training clearly resonated with the group. Such a formal path for CHW in addition to ensuring sustainability and improving recruitment, would also create the basis for the critical need to fairly compensate CHW/Promotores for the vital tasks being performed, and the consequential services they daily deliver in the community.

Dr. Camara Phyllis Jones, Family Physician, Epidemiologist, Activist, shared her experience and passion for the fight against the health disparities as a result of “racism” in both its obvious and more insidious forms.
Racism as one of the crucial “social determinants of health” according to Dr Jones needed to be combatted and eradicated as it appeared in “Structures, policies, norms, and values”, and this would call forth consistent and intentional actions to name, measure, and address the impact on the health and well being of the United States and the world.

“A Physicians Perspective” as given by Dr Randi N Smith, Trauma Surgeon, Grady Memorial Hospital, and Dr Modele O. Ogunniyi, Associate Medical Director, Grady Heart Failure Program.
We were treated to the idea of “bubble bursting opportunities” as a concept based on the partnership working of what takes place in the hospital and the subsequent actions of the CHW in providing follow-up and ongoing patient support. What was referred to as “inside-outside” strategies were shown to demonstrate the power of CHW’s as channels of connection to the community, facilitating robust pathways to better health outcomes.

The final formal presentation on the subject of “CHW’s/Promotores in Refugee & Immigrant Communities” was given by Bella Borghi, Executive Director, Hispanic Health Coalition of Georgia, Vice Chairman of the State of Georgia’s CEAL-CCB Team.

As the director of the HHCGA, the only statewide organization focusing on better health outcomes for Hispanic/Latino children and adults, Bella leads a consistent effort to advance the role and purpose of Promotores/CHW within the community they are serving. Indeed, the work of the Promotores in partnership with Georgia CEAL, was highlighted in a White House report detailing the various responses to the COVID pandemic, as an example of community resilience.

Bella clearly articulated the basis of the actions that resulted in sustainable efforts by Promotores to improve vaccine availability, education, and access to health care providers and services. According to Bella, in her experience, Promotores were effective and gave resilience to community health care initiatives because of trust, as members of the same community, and the fact that “people like people who are like them.” Having the success of the HHCGA and the Promotores model, Bella strongly advocated that the way forward must include deliberate steps to give a new voice and understanding of the importance of Promotores.

As further evidence of the effectiveness and success of the HHCGA in leading the way with a sustainable example of Pomotores/CHW Workforce Development and Sustainability efforts, Bella was asked to be the moderator of a four-member panel of experts from different areas of health and welfare concerns.

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