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Victor Murray Explains the Roles Community Health Workers Play in Coordinating Care

Community health workers act as translators, have immense understanding of the makeup of the community and its needs, and are in-tune to feelings around certain healthcare and nonhealthcare-related topics, explained Victor Murray, director for care management initiatives at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.


Community health workers act as translators, have immense understanding of the makeup of the community and its needs, and are in-tune to feelings around certain healthcare and nonhealthcare-related topics, explained Victor Murray, director for care management initiatives at the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers.

Transcript

What should a care team look like? Who should it include in order to successfully coordinate care?

I think it’s based on a need, so oftentimes we develop models of care, we develop interventions and we say it has to be a nurse, it has to be a social worker, it has to be this profession, a community health worker. But a lot of what we’ve experienced is really being attuned to what the needs are of the folks that we’re serving. What are the problems? What are the issues? What are the things that are top of mind for them? And so for some models, behavioral health is an important piece and so, obviously, in those types of communities you will want to have some type of behavioral health support that could help navigate that system. And so, really, it’s just being attuned to what are the needs of the individuals, the subpopulation that we’re serving and how do we put individuals, professionals, or lay professionals in a right position so as to meet those needs.

Are there any members of the team that seem unconventional or that patients might not realize would be part of the care team?

All of our models of care include community health workers and they are a very important piece to the team. They bring a certain energy, a certain spirit, a certain culture. Most of our community health workers have immense understanding of what’s the makeup of the community, and what are the needs of the community, and just being in-tune to feelings around certain healthcare-related topics and certain nonhealthcare-related topics. And so all of those issues, they play a tremendous factor in peoples’ ability to be able to manage their health. And so community health workers provide that level of nuance when it comes to our care models. And there’s a group that we rely on heavily in order to be able to connect-the-dots for us.

What we’ve also found to be valuable is that they serve as translators in many respects and so oftentimes in healthcare you have providers, professionals and they’re just educating, telling people information, trying to give them the best treatment, and sometimes people might sit there without really an accurate understanding of what’s being said, nor what am I to do. And so, community health workers really play into that middle space as the bridge helping to translate. This is what the provider is saying but also, "provider, this is what the patient needs as well; this is what I’m seeing as I’m working with this patient in the community, in their home. This is their social support system or lack thereof." And so again, having that data, that information to be able to translate back and forth so that ultimately this person can meet their needs.

 
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