Community Health workers all go above and beyond in their craft, performing the duties of a half dozen different healthcare workers. Their flexibility and ability to adapt to any situation makes them an incredible advocate for their patients, as they will endeavor to help their clients in any way possible, attempting to alleviate issues whether they are physical, emotional, mental, or social. Generally, CHW’s serve as a liaison between clients and the healthcare system, however the real advocacy takes place in their efforts to alleviate stigma in the community as well as education for the future.
When asked about the varying responsibilities of a Community Health Worker, one CHW told us the story of a 68 year old woman struggling with addiction, mental health issues, and financial trouble.
“I try to get her into subsidized housing. And I got her into mental health. And she said the other day, she goes: “I know I’m doing very well…She said, you have done something to me, to get me to focus on really what I wanted to do with my life.”
This quote conveys how CHW’s are an embodiment of Advocates, striving to address all areas of struggle their clients face. Community Health Workers do the majority of their work out of the office, at people’s homes, clinics, and all over the city and area. As peer navigators, they strive to find patients who left care and guide them back into the system towards health. They are advocates, teachers, and guardians for their clients, as they are able to provide other services outside their job description.
One CHW noted one experience where one of their patients was pregnant and giving birth, but had no family in the area. That CHW stayed in the hospital for 8 hours supporting and consoling her client. The work CHW’s do transcends their job description.
One of the greatest attributes of the CHW is their ability to treat their patients as an equal and a peer, rather than a power struggle between a physician and a patient.
The humanity and care shown by CHWs is a testament of best within people. The drive to help people and the efficacy of their work is one of the best reasons why they are the future of HIV Care, as well as other areas of healthcare. CHW’s endeavor to identify and solve issues before they come up, taking a proactive approach to healthcare rather than reacting to issues.