November 11, 2022
OCHIN has received a nearly $3 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support a community health workers training program in collaboration with five partners in Oregon. The program is designed to improve and sustain access to whole-patient care for rural and medically underserved communities, while creating new career paths that expand economic opportunity and strengthen the state’s health care workforce.
The program will train 240 community health workers, including 180 who are new to working in health care and 60 who have some experience but are looking to increase their skillset and advance their careers. Through a partnership with the Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries, OCHIN will create a registered apprenticeship program and anticipates that at least 45 participants will graduate from the apprenticeship during the grant period.
“Community health workers are essential to close existing workforce gaps and build clinical capacity to support patient access to comprehensive care,” said Jennifer Stoll, executive vice president of external affairs at OCHIN. “This program also creates exciting career path opportunities and helps further OCHIN’s mission to foster a diverse, culturally competent, and representative health care workforce.”
Addressing vital health care workforce needs
The new OCHIN+ community health worker training program will address three critical needs of health centers and public health departments:
Attracting and keeping new talent.
Learning and workforce development opportunities create family-sustaining career opportunities and career ladders for people who may have otherwise found a career in health care to be unattainable.
Building a skilled and resilient workforce.
By scaling workforce development programs for health centers that are coping with staff shortages and financial challenges, OCHIN and its partners are improving the health of local communities and addressing health disparities.
Ensuring equitable access to whole-patient care.
Community health workers connect patients to non-medical support and conduct community outreach that addresses social determinants of health; improves outcomes; and ensures high-quality, culturally inclusive, and equitable access to health care.
The new OCHIN-trained community health workers will be qualified to supply non-medical services, such as screening for social determinants of health and connecting patients to food banks or housing resources. While health centers historically had to incur the costs for providing these services, participating locations will now be able to bill to Medicaid for reimbursement, which is a key part of Oregon’s Medicaid transformation. This will enhance financial sustainability for the participating members and support their bottom lines.
Partnering in collaboration to train community health workers
OCHIN’s learning and workforce development program, OCHIN+, will administer training and offer remote learning coursework as well as in-person experiential learning at partner sites. Learners will receive a stipend to ensure that financial resources are not a barrier to participation as well as support in finding employment within the OCHIN network following successful completion of the program.
The five participating partners in Oregon are:
- Lincoln County Health & Human Services
- Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
- One Community Health
- Multnomah County Health Department
- Rogue Community Health
“Rogue Community Health is excited to partner with OCHIN on this initiative to bolster our workforce with additional community health workers and develop a new model for supporting whole-person patient care in health centers,” said William North, executive officer of Rogue Community Health. “We have included community health workers in our work since 2015. They encourage preventive care and health literacy for conditions such as diabetes and hypertension while also focusing on social determinants of health. This new initiative expands our work with more warm connections to our human services partners, while strengthening trust within our community.”
Developing the workforce of the future
The program is part of OCHIN’s mission to develop the health care workforce of the future through an expanding OCHIN+ training and professional development portfolio. Learnings from this program will allow for future scaling to other areas of Oregon and beyond.
Applications will be open soon. If you are interested in applying, please visit the OCHIN+ website for more information.