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Using Community Health Workers to Improve Linkage and Retention in Care

The purpose of this cooperative agreement is to increase the utilization of community health workers (CHW) to strengthen the health care workforce and improve access to health care and health outcomes for racial and ethnic minority people living with HIV (PLWH). The project focuses on assisting medical care provider sites to integrate CHWs into an HIV multidisciplinary team model through training, technical assistance, and collaborative learning.

Project Team

The Center for Innovation in Social Work in Health at Boston University has assembled a multi-organizational team for implementation and evaluation for this initiative. The team includes staff from BU Medical School’s Center for Implementation and Improvement Sciences (CIIS), BU Center for Innovation in Social Work in Health's Activist Lab, Multnomah County Health Department (MCHD) Community Capacitation Center (CCC), MCHD HIV Health Services Center (HHSC), University of Texas School of Public Health (UT Health), the Center for Social Innovation/T3, and Impact Marketing + Communications.

Activities

The project will focus on assisting 10 Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) HIV medical provider sites with the support needed to integrate CHWs into the HIV multidisciplinary team model through training, direct technical assistance, and collaborative learning sessions. The Center for Innovation in Social Work in Health and its multi-organization team will develop CHW curriculum, train CHWs and supervisors, and provide technical assistance as these providers develop and implement the CHW model developed. The Center for Innovation in Social Work in Health will also evaluate the effectiveness of the CHW model in improving linkage and retention in care, collect data on select clinical outcomes and assess the interventions implemented by the 10 RWHAP HIV medical provider sites. 

Project Impact

CHWs will be integrated into HIV medical teams to strengthen the health care workforce, build healthier communities, achieve health equity among racial and ethnic minority populations and ultimately improve health outcomes for PLWH. The Center for Innovation in Social Work in Health will evaluate the effectiveness of CHWs in improving linkage and retention in care, assess the models implemented by Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program providers, and disseminate results for use by other organizations seeking to integrate a CHW model into their practice. 

Resources

Webinar: Using Community Health Workers to Improve Linkage and Retention in HIV Care

During this interactive webinar course, the first in a series and presented on July 27, 2017, participants learn why community health workers (CHWs) could be key to reducing barriers to care faced by underserved and hard-to-reach populations, specifically in HIV systems. The course defines the role of CHWs, how they are integrated into health care teams, and how they function as an integral part of the health care system. Experts share real-world illustrative examples of CHWs working in HIV care. Participants learn about building—and expanding—internal capacity for CHWs.

Webinar: Community Health Workers in HIV Services, Insights from Virginia

Community Health Workers have the potential to improve outcomes on the HIV care continuum, but what does that look like in a Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) funded agency? What is their scope of work and how can they be funded? During this interactive webinar course, the second in a series and presented on November 16, 2017, Leonard Recupero and Susan Carr from the Virginia Department of Health, HIV Services Unit, shared their experiences integrating CHWs into these RWHAP services; working with CHWs to enhance HIV prevention and care services; and improve outcomes along the HIV care continuum. The webinar discussed funding, program planning, and the scope of work for CHWs in HIV care.

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