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Author: Cindy Martin

Meet Newest Staff Member, Corina Pinto!

I grew up in East Boston and an important part of my identity is that I’m first generation Honduran American. When I graduated from the University of Vermont in 2015, I came back to East Boston looking for a way to serve my community.

My first role was as a CHW for the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. I had the opportunity to serve children and families who were new to this country or first generation. I appreciated being able to serve children who reminded me so much of myself growing up and be a role model to them.

What inspired you to be a CHW?

During my junior year in college, I had the opportunity to conduct research on reproductive rights in Peru. During my time there, I lived with Taquileños on the island of Taquile where they spoke primary Quechua. In working with the people and the medical staff on Taquile, I learned about the importance of cultural competence in community health. During my senior year, my interest in community health grew. The first place I looked for a health related job was at my primary care’s office, which is at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. They had a CHW position available although to be honest, I wasn’t sure what that really meant until I started the job.

What inspired me to stay in that role is when I realized how much of being a CHW relied on my lived experiences and my love for my community. Those are the cornerstones of our work. I invested whole-heartedly into my profession and appreciated being able to bring my whole self to the job. I feel like that is a unique opportunity other professions don’t get. That’s what makes us (CHWs) good at the job, because we are serving the community we love, wholeheartedly.

How did you get involved with MACHW?

As I became more comfortable with the CHW role, I began to see the blatant health inequities. These inequities are substantial and systemic; I was searching for connection with other CHWs to learn if they were facing the same issues. At the time, I was the first and only CHW at my work, but I was able to connect with CHWs at the Boston Public Health Commission. Through BPHC, I was invited to participate in a think tank hosted by MACHW. That’s the first time I learned about MACHW and met the MACHW team.

What is your role with MACHW now?

Currently, I’m the Membership Coordinator, similar to a CHW Organizer. My job is to create, pilot, and facilitate professional development modules and to launch MACHWitas in Boston and in the Northeast.

What do you see as some of the challenges and opportunities for CHWs in MA?

Reflecting on my own experience as a CHW, one of the challenges was enhancing my own self-determination so I could continue to make an impact on my community despite the systemic barriers in the workplace and community. I know as a CHW in a health center, it was hard to maintain my own sense of importance and effectiveness when there are other staff members that don’t necessarily see it yet. Eventually we made a great team, but it took a time to build trust and understanding of how our roles could work together to best serve the patients.

Another challenge of integrating more CHWs in healthcare systems is maintaining our heart identity. Many (if not most) CHWs talk openly about the love we have for our communities and that language needs to stay central to our work. It’s not something that can be quantified the way other professional skills can be measured. How do we maintain that piece while still remaining credible and legitimate to other professions?

One opportunity for CHWs is the implementation of Accountable Care Organizations throughout the state of MA. This is a way for our work to be covered by insurance. It is a great opportunity for CHWs to demonstrate the depth of our impact on the health of the communities we serve if we are given sustainable resources to do our job well.

Another opportunity for CHWs is to get involved with MACHW. No CHW should ever feel alone. We have an opportunity to create a system of connectivity. All CHWs, regardless of experience, can feel a part of something larger than themselves and feel connected to other CHWs in the region and possibly the country.

Our work is important and we are stronger together. CHWs are in tune with what is going on in our communities and if we’re all coming together to advocate for our communities, we can make a powerful impact. There is great opportunity for CHWs to collectively advocate for our communities.

What impact are you hoping to have with MACHW and beyond?

I hope to be able to create professional development modules that are really thoughtful and relevant to the CHWs in MA. I also hope to create a culture of connectivity among CHWs across the state. I want them to feel heard and that they’re part of the development of the workforce. I want them to have a way of regularly vocalizing the challenges and opportunities they experience. I hope to help create a continual feedback loop between what MACHW is doing and what’s going on in their workplace, community, and region.

 

Board Member, Rainelle Walker-White, Receives Award!

From left to right: Jennifer Bennet (former Executive Director), Mary Kathryn Fallon (Financial Manager), Rainelle Walker-White (Assistant Director) and Dr. Nancy Oriol (Founder and President) of the The Family Van at the awards ceremony.

Congratulations to MACHW’s Board Member Rainelle Walker-White on receiving the Boston Alliance for Community Health (BACH) 2017 Healthy Community Leadership Award which “celebrates Bostonians who have taken on a leadership role to improve the health of their community and address racial and ethnic health inequities.”

Rainelle Walker-White is the Assistant Director of The Family Van and has over 25 years’ experience in the field of health care delivery for hard to reach populations. She has been employed by the Family Van for 20 years and has served as its supervisor for over eight. Ms. White holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Service. She also has certificates as a Generalist Health Educator as well as Nursing Assistant and Home Health Aid. She has a working knowledge of the effectiveness of mobile health services, particularly the effectiveness of health screenings relating to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, reproductive health (including family planning), prenatal care, cancer screening and management, STDs, and HIV/AIDS. Ms. White also conducts many workshops in the community educating people about the importance of health care and wellness. Ms. Walker-White can be reached at rainelle_white@hms.harvard.edu.

Consider Giving to MACHW

Dear MACHW family,

This holiday season, please consider giving a gift to the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW) to help us continue improving the lives of community health workers (CHWs) and the future of the profession.

DONATE

In 2017, we worked hard to address four areas of concern for CHWs in Massachusetts. Here were some of our successes:

​1. CHWs must have salaries that recognize their skills and experience. This year MACHW…

  • Developed recommendations for salary ranges based on level of experience.
  • Launched a campaign educating accountable care organizations (ACOs) and other employers to adopt these ranges.

2. CHWs must have ongoing access to training. This year MACHW…

  • Worked with MassHealth to designate funding for continuing CHW training programs ACROSS the Commonwealth.
  • Partnered with CHEC-Boston and JRI Health to create a “Mobile CORE Competency Training” to ensure training availability in those regions that do not have a CHW Training Program.

​3. CHW employers must have access to dependable information and support, so they can create and manage programs that enable CHWs to best serve their clients. This year MACHW…

  • Created the CHW Employer Resource Center which provides information, tools, training, and technical assistance to employers of CHWs.

4. CHWs and their employers must have access to up to date information about jobs, training opportunities, certification changes, etc. This year MACHW…

  • Launched a new website with national, state, and regional information relevant to the workforce and their employers.

Help us continue our work by making a tax-deductible donation today.

DONATE

With gratitude,

Lissette Blondet

Executive Director
Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers
95 Berkeley Street, #201
Boston, MA 02116
P: 617.292.5061
lblondet@machw.org

Call for Presenters, 9th Annual CHW Conference

We invite you to help us shape the 9th Annual CHW Conference by submitting a breakout session proposal by Dec 8th. For more information, see flyer. 

The goal of the conference is to strengthen our efforts to promote and firmly advance the CHW profession.  It is dedicated to CHWs and CHW allies and will feature presentations on key CHW workforce and program development issues. It will provide networking opportunities and innovative tools to bring to your practice and program.

Breakout sessions will cover three key themes (such as, but not limited to):

CHW Program Development:  

  • Models for CHW career development opportunities
  • Effective strategies for CHW supervision
  • Innovative CHW program models that include:
  • Effective protocols, workflows, and tools  
  • Effective recruitment and retention strategies
  • Strategies for system-wide collaboration and partnerships
  • Strategies for management of stress and empathy fatigue issues among staff
  • CHW program evaluation

CHW Professional Development and Skill-Building

  • CHW certification in MA
  • The role of CHWs in racial equity work
  • Core competencies for CHWs
  • Special health topics for CHWs
  • Motivational Interviewing/Patient engagement strategies
  • Identifying resources to meet patient needs
  • CHW leadership skills  

Policy

  • Accountable Care Organizations and the role of CHWs
  • Sustainable Financing for CHW Services
  • Demonstrating Return on Investment

MACHW launches first MACHWita in the Southeast!

A message from Jamie Berberena, MACHW Regional Chapter Coordinator:

To date, we have held two Professional Development Forums (PDFs) where dozens of CHWs from across the region came together to support each other, share resources and best practices as part of a professional network, and learn from subject matter experts about innovative strategies to meet the complex needs of clients.

Our third PDF is scheduled to take place Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at the Wareham Public Library.

Here are some comments from CHWS who attended past forums:

“I liked the chance to come together and share with other CHWs.” 

“I enjoyed the discussion and hearing other people’s stories.”

“Nice setting and well organized.”

“The resource sharing was very helpful.”

“I am looking forward to doing this again.”

“I appreciate hearing how others do their work and troubleshoot problems working as a team.”

What’s new at MACHW?

We sit down with MACHW’s staff to hear what’s happening!

First, what would you like to celebrate from this past year?

Jackie: The hard work of MACHW’s Advisory Board members (pictured below). This group is phenomenal. They are a group of trailblazers that guided a new vision for MACHW. They have also been very hands on with MACHW’s awards, annual conference, the new MACHWitas, etc. We could not have done so much this year without them.

Lissette: I agree, our Advisory Board is amazing! The group includes a spectrum of roles: community health workers (CHWs), supervisors, trainers, physicians, and administrators. With our Advisory Board now reflecting that vision of integration and engagement, it’s not surprising our members have also been very active this year. Together, we have been able to have a strong voice. For example, hundreds of CHWs came to have their voice heard against including a CORI check as part of the certification application. Lastly, I’d like to celebrate how much closer we are to having certification be official.

What are you most excited about for this year?

Jackie: I’m excited about the MACHWitas, or “little MACHWs” in Spanish. CHWs wanted us to decentralize our efforts, so with MACHWitas, we’re taking the show on the road! We will create that safe space for CHWs to reflect, support, and learn from their peers in their region. We’ll also be able to give hands on assistance with the certification application.

Lissette: I’m especially excited for our Employer Resource Center that will be on our new website soon. Our work is both with CHWs and employers, including ACOs. We have worked hard to establish credible relationships with MassHealth and ACOs. We are jointly exploring ways to better support and integrate all CHWs, including colleagues working in behavioral health (Peer Specialists, Family Partners) and Substance Use (Recovery Coaches).

What other changes should members expect?

Lissette: MACHW’s main office is now at Health Resources in Action (HRiA) in Boston. During our strategic planning process last year, we realized we needed an organizational platform that would allow up to expand regionally. We had to make the tough decision to leave Center for Health Impact in Worcester. We are grateful for the years we spent at CHI and we would not be here without that incubation time there. We interviewed several organizations and HRiA stood out as a partner that had the statewide infrastructure we were looking for. With access to all the wonderful technology HRiA provides, we are planning to do webinars and more web-based activities.

Jackie: Also, MACHW has a fresh look to reflect our new, invigorated work. We have a new logo and our website will soon be more user friendly. Also, our emails finally say MACHW.org!

What has stayed the same at MACHW?

Lissette: Our passion to serve the CHW workforce with excellence.  We are committed to working together with CHWs, employers, funders, etc, to support the CHW workforce and create new professional development opportunities for our members.

MACHW Donors Provide Scholarship Opportunity

Board member, Shawn Matthews, received a scholarship to attend the 15th Annual Unity Conference in Dallas, Texas. This community health worker (CHW) conference is a professional development opportunity for CHWs to learn from each other across states and native nations.

“I would like to thank everyone at MACHW for giving me the opportunity of experience 2017 UNITY Conference in Dallas Texas. It was an eye opening, networking, educational experience. It’s an experience that I will cherish the rest of my life.” Shawn Matthews, CHW, Whittier Street Community Health Center

Missed Unity 2017?  Learn more about conference speakers and advocacy tools here:  https://www.usm.edu/health/2017-csho-unity-conference

Please consider giving to MACHW today to fund future training scholarships.