Community Health Worker Meeting in Detroit
Last month, REACH Detroit, an affiliated partnership of the Detroit URC, organized a meeting to jumpstarting efforts toward community health worker sustainability. The meeting was titled Sustainable Funding for Community Health Worker Practice and Utilization in Michigan: Planning the Future. On August 18, 2011, over 70 stakeholders from multiple organizations and interest groups attended to hear about current efforts and were challenged to taken action in future activities working toward sustainability of CHWs in Michigan.
Attendees heard from local CHWs who provided an introduction to CHWs and the issues that they face, as well as researchers who provided evidence of CHW effectiveness in Michigan as they work in areas of cancer screening, maternal/child mental health, diabetes, and prenatal physical and mental health. Three keynote speakers also shared invaluable information concerning the CHW sustainability effort: Dr. Erin Inman, Director of Spectrum Health’s Healthier Communities, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Gail Hirsch, Director of the Office of Community Health Workers, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston; and Joan Cleary, Interim Director of the Minnesota Community Health Worker Alliance.
Following the speaker presentations, meeting attendees participated in one of five work groups. These groups focused on education and training of community health workers, employment development, financing mechanisms, policy and systems, and community health worker leadership and support. All groups reported back to the larger audience their recommendations for key steps moving forward on this effort. In the end, conference attendees provided very favorable reviews and excellent recommendations for future efforts.
An outcome of the meeting was the formation of the Michigan Community Health Worker Alliance, a collaboration of multiple stakeholders with the sole aim of promoting and maintaining CHW workforce sustainability in Michigan. The Alliance’s goals for the next six months include the creation of a strategic plan or drafting of a white paper, the formation of the Alliance’s core, a submitted grant support resolution seeking funding, and the implementation of Web-based communication.
The initial meeting, Sustainable Funding for Community Health Worker Practice and Utilization in Michigan: Planning the Future, was made possible through generous funding from the Nokomis Foundation to the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work.