Community Memorial Foundation and Healthy Communities Foundation have jointly invested $535,000 in a pilot program to engage a community health worker network in the Western Suburbs. Community Health Workers, or CHWs, are frontline public health workers with established, trusted relationships within their communities. These relationships enable the workers to serve as liaisons between community members and local health and social service providers, with the goal of facilitating access to services and improving the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.1
Funding supports Community Health Workers at the following nonprofit organizations: Aging Care Connections, Alivio Medical Center, BEDS Plus, Healthcare Alternative Systems, and Mujeres Latinas en Acción. The program is coordinated by Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, a seasoned organization who led the adoption of Illinois’ first CHW legislation. It is evaluated by the Chicago-based Sinai Urban Health Institute.
Community Health Worker funding is used to connect west suburban residents served by the two foundations to a diverse range of services, including adult and family health care, homelessness prevention, behavioral health care, and crisis prevention. Three of the five organizations also provide bilingual/bicultural services (Spanish).
1 “Community Health Workers.” AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION, http://www.apha.org/apha-communities/member-sections/community-health-workers.