Prevention Research Center holds Community Health Worker Basic Training

By Ashley McNatt

A community health worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has a close understanding of the community. This understanding helps the CHW work with the community as a liaison to health care and other services, which ultimately improves the health of the community.

“It is important that the CHWs have new skills so they are most effective at their work in the community,” said Anna Huff Davis, program trainer and co-investigator for the Arkansas Prevention Research Center (AR PRC). “

The training, held in Helena, was developed from the “Foundations for Community Health Workers” by Tim Berthold. The curriculum consisted of four phases over a seven-week period.

Each phase focused on a different topic such as the role of a CHW, an introduction to public health and cultural humility; interviewing, counseling and home visiting; health outreach and community organizing; and applied experiences.

Participants were from Marvell, Helena, Brinkley, Marianna and Dumas. Most of them already serve as CHWs and the others are community connectors, helping people connect to health-related resources or services.

The training was led by Huff Davis and Naomi Cottoms, executive director of Tri County Rural Health, who have both been CHWs for over 20 years.

“We want these individuals to be incorporated into the health care teams, while keeping their uniqueness — coming from the community,” said Huff Davis. “Because of their uniqueness, CHWs are successful.”

The training was sponsored by the UAMS Arkansas Prevention Research Center, Community Health Centers of Arkansas, the Office of Community Based Public Health at the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, and Tri County Rural Health.