Understanding Community Needs
Peninsula Community Health Services' Community Health Workers are innovatively partnering with local organizations to better understand and provide for community needs.
What is a Community Health Worker (CHW)?
Outreach Coordinator and CHW Supervisor, Yvonne Brown explains that the CHW team “connects [individuals] with resources in the community, while making sure to treat them as a whole person and not just their symptoms.” They know the ins and outs of community resources and services. Anything from how to navigate insurance to public transportation. On top of that foundation, each CHW has a specialty focus, allowing the team to effectively collaborate with a wide variety of sectors.
CHWs are currently partnered with an impressive range of sectors and organizations. “Being innovative with partnerships is important […] you’d be surprised by who is interested in partnering with you and why. It’s another way to understand what your community needs,” says Brown. Current CHW partnerships include:
Partnering with NaphCare to facilitate substance use disorder treatment within Kitsap County Jail
Working to reduce the amount of unnecessary emergency visits at Harrison Medical Center
Connecting community members with insurance information at Kitsap Regional Libraries' open enrollment events
Accompanying Peninsula Community Health Services’ mobile units to the YMCA, Salvation Army, WorkSource, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), and more!
The Power of Lived Experience
The scope of work being done by CHWs is vast and diverse. Through lived experience, the team understands the overwhelming nature of trying to navigate complicated systems while in survival mode. Brown shares, “[Growing up in a] lower income family, I had to learn to navigate through DSHS, WIC, and programs like that. Every person on my team has a similar story when it comes to why they want to give back to their community and make a difference.” The CHW team strives to be there for individuals who feel overwhelmed amid challenging situations.
Lori Kerr, Manager of Care Management at CHI Franciscan, Peninsula Region, works closely with the CHW at Harrison Medical Center’s Emergency Department. While checking in with the CHW, Kerr shared how "the patient who was sitting nearby, totally unsolicited, offered that she so appreciated having the CHW in the ED, as she had just been seen in the ED and already had her follow up appointment with her primary care provider scheduled while she waited for her ride.”
CHWs are strengthening patient experience by simply being available to community members. As they take time to listen to individual experiences, they build trust and relationships, making stressful and complicated situations a little more manageable.
Community Health Workers are impacting the lives of many by using unique experiences, skills, and partnerships to prioritize population health and approach outreach through a lens of compassion and empathy. For more information about Community Health Workers or how you can partner with Peninsula Community Health Services, please contact Outreach Coordinator, Yvonne Brown.
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Olympic Community of Health (OCH) prioritizes community health needs by encouraging innovative collaboration across the Olympic region.