Become a Community Health Worker!

Become a Community Health Worker!

When most people think of working in the field
of healthcare, they think of being a doctor or a nurse, but there are many more career
options. I’m Rebecca Lewis, professor and chair of
the Foundations of Health program at Holyoke Community College. Foundations of Health was created by HCC to
introduce students to the variety of choices available, such as Community Health Worker,
Direct Care Worker, Medical Billing & Coding, Health Administration, Public Health, and
more. Like a lot of people, I came to HCC wanting
to be a nurse. Through Foundations of Health, I ended up
exploring many different fields, and the Community Health Worker option immediately caught my
eye. Community Health Workers educate people in
their own community, and help them access the resources they need. The idea of working with people one-on-one
and helping to strengthen my community was really appealing to me. My name is Elmer Pagan. I’m a Community Health Worker with Holyoke
Medical Center. My role here is pretty important. I’m part of a care team that, you know, incorporates
nurses and, you know, we work together helping patients, you know, reach health and wellbeing. I typically work with high-risk and underserved
populations. We do a lot of prevention work. The one thing that is satisfying is to see
the end result, you know, to see the actual client or patient, you know, reach their goals
and follow their care plan and just manage their condition well. Cherelyn Roberts, registered nurse, manager
of community navigation at Holyoke Medical Center. One of the big things that they’ve impacted
is in our particular community in Holyoke. We have a very high rate of asthma in children. So one of the things we focus on with our
Community Health Workers is allow them to get out into the community to partner with
families and children and get access to their homes to help them identify triggers in their
home. So this is something they normally wouldn’t
let a physician do, or a nurse, or a social worker, but a Community Health Worker who
they see as one of their peers, they embrace that and they allow them to come into their
home and walk through their home and do a lengthy evaluation of what kinds of things
– carpets, maybe you have mold, maybe there’s things going on in your home, people are smoking
next door. Healthcare costs in the United States are
higher than in most other developed nations. But access to healthcare is not evenly distributed. Poverty and language barriers are two common
obstacles that prevent people from getting and staying healthy. Often, people wait until their situation is
critical and end up going to the Emergency Room for services. We need advocates inside our communities to
educate and inform people, and connect them to the services they need before they end
up in the hospital. I’ve been a nurse now for 23 years. I actually graduated from HCC with my first
degree. So I’ve come a long way and I understand that
hospitals are not the ones to answer all the problems related to each individual. We have to look outside our doors, get into
the community, find out what really matters to the patient. So to me, it’s really rewarding when I find
out what matters to the patient and I can help them solve their problem. Others should consider this field because
it is totally expanding. Being a Community Health Worker is truly satisfying. It’s also a great way to start your career. You can take more classes, and earn an Associate’s
Degree, then transfer to a four-year college and continue to advance. There are so many options, and you can do
it all at your own pace. If you’re interested in becoming a Community
Health Worker, or learning more about the many careers available in the field of healthcare,
getting started is easier than you think. Come to one of our special information sessions
or schedule an appointment with one of our admissions counselors. I hope to see you on campus soon!

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

1 Comment

  1. This job fits me perfectly because I was looking for a job in the health field that will help others. Nursing was not the path for me, therefore i did my research and community health is definitely what i want to do. This job fits with the definition of public health because it is very important that we are seeing a close eye on people not only at work and school but also at home. Sometimes people forget that how others live can be very dangerous.

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