Author: Catherine Spy

Job opportunity: Director, Office of Community Health Workers (MA DPH)

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Bureau of Community Health and Prevention, Office of Community Health Workers, is seeking a dynamic and self-motivated professional to provide strategic vision and leadership as the Director of the Office of Community Health Workers (OCHWs). The Director of OCHWs provides content expertise on advancement of the CHW workforce, including supporting implementation of Massachusetts CHW certification, and provides overall leadership on efforts within DPH to promote the CHW workforce, through both program and policy initiatives. These include convening key internal and external stakeholders, including sister agencies like MassHealth, to build consensus and provide technical assistance on these and other critical markers in the advancement of the CHW profession. The Director will supervise a team of staff and oversee vendors who provide services and ensure completion of deliverables for a variety of grant funded programs.

The OCHWs team acknowledges the history and persistence of structural racism in the United States and its impact on health, including on chronic disease outcomes. The Director will provide a structural analysis of systemic and historical racism and the resulting health inequities and apply this lens to the work of the OCHWs. Success in this work will rely on applying a structural analysis of systemic and historical racism and the resulting health inequities to the work of the Office, tailoring Office activities to this analysis, and supporting reporting staff in also applying this analysis.

See the full  description and apply here

Community Health Worker Day

Community Health Worker Day is Tuesday, June 15, 2021!


Dear Colleagues and Friends in the Outreach Community,

Community Health Worker Day is June 15, 2021. On behalf of the Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW), I extend my heartfelt gratitude for the commitment, pride and sheer determination of all of you who have chosen to do this important work in our communities. The last 14 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging for everyone across the healthcare and social service continuum, but especially for all of you on the front lines. You have helped thousands in our neighborhoods access testing, care and vaccines. Not to mention all the wrap around services you connected for people dealing with job loss, food insecurity and myriad other issues. If I have not said it already or enough, THANK YOU for all that you do.

We have created the guidance below with ideas for employers of CHWs to celebrate and thank you on that day. Please help us make sure that every supervisor, manager, CEO, gets a copy!

With Gratitude,
Lissette Blondet
Executive Director, MACHW

Community Health Worker Day Guide

Please help us celebrate these ‘heroes among us’ on their special day. Download the Employer Guide to Celebrate their Community Health Workers.

Impact of Covid-19 on Community Health Workers in Massachusetts

Results from MACHW Online Survey: November to December 2020 and Priorities from the February 2021 Covid-19 Debrief Webinar

Community Health Workers continue to be on the forefront in health care and community-based settings as essential frontline workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The goal of this anonymous online survey was to understand challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic on community health workers, both professionally and personally.

Read the full report.

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Vaccine Appointment Booking for Individuals Ages 65+, Individuals with 2+ Certain Medical Conditions to Begin on February 18th

Link to full press release and video on Mass.gov

BOSTON — Today, the Baker-Polito Administration announced individuals ages 65 and over and those with 2+ certain medical conditions, including Asthma, can visit www.mass.gov/covidvaccine to start booking an appointment for vaccine beginning tomorrow, February 18th.

With this announcement, almost 1 million individuals are newly eligible for vaccine.

Due to extremely high demand for appointments and limited vaccine supply, it could take more than a month for all eligible individuals to secure an available appointment, unless federal supply significantly increases. Recently, Massachusetts has been receiving approximately 110,000 first doses per week from the federal government. Residents are encouraged to keep checking the website as appointments are added on a rolling basis.

Individuals 65 and over:

Individuals 65 and over, including residents and staff of low income and affordable public and private senior housing are eligible to receive vaccine effective tomorrow, February 18th.

Residents and staff of low income and affordable public and private senior housing can learn more about vaccination options here.

Individuals with 2+ Certain Medical Conditions:

Individuals 16 and older with two or more of certain medical conditions (defined below) are eligible for vaccine, effective tomorrow.

In concert with CDC guidelines, the Commonwealth has adopted the list of conditions that cause individuals to be at an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Massachusetts has also identified moderate to severe asthma as an eligible medical condition.

Phase 2 eligible conditions:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Down Syndrome
  • Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity and severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 kg/m2 or higher)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Smoking
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

Learn more from CDC: COVID-19: People with Certain Medical Conditions

Mass Vaccination Appointments: 

Tomorrow morning, over 70,000 appointments are scheduled to be posted at mass vaccination sites (Eastfield Mall in Springfield, Double Tree Hotel in Danvers, Fenway Park in Boston and Gillette Stadium in Foxboro).

Details for booking can be found via the COVID-19 Vaccine Finder, which enables residents to search for a vaccination location and view appointment availability before scheduling. The tool can be accessed via the state’s vaccination website at www.mass.gov/COVIDvaccine or directly at https://vaxfinder.mass.gov.

Individuals that are unable to access appointments via the internet can call 211 and follow the prompts for vaccine appointments.

There are currently over 170 vaccination locations across the Commonwealth. Currently, almost 95% of our population lives within a 45-minute drive of a mass vaccination site or within 30 minutes of a regional (high volume site) – not counting the pharmacies, provider and community health center vaccination sites.

Local Boards of Health:

Today, Local Boards of Health were informed of the Commonwealth’s streamlined vaccination distribution plan that prioritizes equity and high-capacity throughput vaccination, particularly as vaccine supply from the federal government remains extremely constrained.

This streamlined distribution plan will increase vaccine access at high throughput vaccination locations such as mass vaccination sites or regional sites and at pharmacy sites. In addition to increasing efficiency in administering the vaccine, the Commonwealth will ensure that the program is equitable and meets the needs of communities that have been the most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Utilizing the social vulnerability index as a starting point, the Department of Public Health has identified 20 municipalities that have had the greatest COVID burden and have the greatest per centage of non- white residents. These municipalities are: Boston; Brockton; Chelsea; Everett; Fall River; Fitchburg; Framingham; Haverhill; Holyoke; Lawrence; Leominster; Lowell; Lynn; Malden; Methuen; New Bedford; Randolph; Revere; Springfield; and Worcester.

These municipalities will continue to distribute vaccine at the local level, are prioritized for the retail pharmacy program, and are served by community health centers and other health care providers administering vaccine.

Local Boards of Health will continue to play a crucial role in our collective plan to curb COVID-19.

The Administration is asking Local Boards of Health to support these critical objectives:

  • Planning to vaccinate homebound individuals in their community and older adults in private and public low income and affordable housing.
  • Encourage residents to get vaccinated at mass vaccination sites, retail pharmacies and other locations that are open to all residents.
  • Increase vaccine awareness of safety and efficacy so that when the Commonwealth does have more incoming vaccine from the Federal Government, and as more groups become eligible, communities are ready and willing to accept vaccine.

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Gov. Baker announces plan for COVID-19 vaccine

On December 9, 2020, the Governor provided an overview of Massachusetts’ plan for a COVID-19 vaccine. It is expected that the federal Food and Drug Administration will grant emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine on December 10, and for the Moderna vaccine on December 17. Here is a link to the press release: https://www.mass.gov/news/baker-polito-administration-announces-initial-steps-for-covid-19-vaccine-distribution.

When a vaccine is approved, there will not be enough doses available for everyone at once, and so residents will get the vaccine in phases. Across the country, experts have been working on how to distribute limited vaccines in a fair, ethical, and transparent way with the goal of reducing serious illness and death, preserving the health care infrastructure, and addressing the needs of the most vulnerable first.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) have made recommendations regarding prioritization of vaccine. In Massachusetts, a COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Group was formed to include professionals from healthcare, community health, local public health, local and state government, community, academia, infectious diseases, geriatrics, pediatrics and other leaders. The Advisory Group made recommendations to the Governor about how to prioritize distribution of the vaccine in the Commonwealth, carefully considering the work of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) and CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), as well as other available materials. 

Please find more information about vaccine prioritization and other frequently asked questions at: mass.gov/covidvaccine.

NACHW launches CHW Document Resource Center

The National Association of Community Health Workers (NACHW) has launched the NACHW CHW Document Resource Center – a one stop, searchable online database of over 800 curated documents related to state policy advancements and workforce development practices for community health workers (CHWs). The CHW Document Resource Center was developed in collaboration with National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) and the Centers for Disease Control Division of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. We invite CHW Leaders, State and Local Government Practitioners, Employers and Payers to login and begin your search today!

https://nachw.org/chw-document-resource-center/

Evidence for Increasing Community Health Worker Wages

For a printer-friendly version of the brief, click here.

The Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW) commissioned the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Social Policy to prepare a report* on community health workers’ (CHWs) skills and wages.  It found that CHWs in Massachusetts receive considerably lower pay than those in occupations requiring a similar skill set. In response, MACHW recommends employers consider adopting the following minimum salary range for CHWs:

Experience Annual Salary Hourly Wage
Entry 0 – 2 years $38,500 – $42,500 $27 -$30
Mid-Career 2- 5 years $42,500 – $48,500 $30 – $35
Senior 5+ years $48,500+ $35 +

⊛ includes benefits

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) recognizes CHWs as important health professionals for reducing costs and improving health outcomes. Though some CHWs have no college experience, their required skill set is comparable to many occupations requiring college degrees and beyond. In 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, CHWs in Massachusetts earned an average hourly wage of $20.86 (no benefits). The average wage for all occupations in Massachusetts was $29.95 in 2016, 29% higher than a CHW’s wage.

To date, most CHWs are not paid living wages. Research shows that the CHW workforce is predominately comprised of women of color (likely supporting children). The MIT Living Wage Calculator notes the MA living wage for a single adult with 2 children is $32.98 – approximately $68,600 in annual earnings for a full time, year-round worker. Different areas of the state have different costs. Living wage for a single adult with two children in Boston is $34.51/hour compared to $29.40 for Franklin County, both higher than the current CHW average wage.

The demand for CHWs is growing. Without a corresponding wage increase, health care providers and others will find it more difficult to recruit, hire and retain CHWs. Massachusetts can anticipate increased demand for CHWs. With voluntary state certification now available, that credential should be recognized with a living wage. Paying CHWs appropriate to their skill levels will attract and maintain this professional workforce, reduce turnover cost and improve health outcomes.

*Community Health Workers: Wages, Skills and Roles; Prepared by The Center for Social Policy (Brandynn Holgate, Randy Albelda, and Vishakha Agarwal) March, 2018

Know an outstanding CHW? Nominate them for an award from MACHW!

The Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW) wants to recognize and honor the outstanding service, dedication, and excellence of individuals and groups of individuals who serve their communities as Community Health Workers (CHWs). The APHA definition of a CHW is: “A frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the CHW to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.” CHWs may use other titles (e.g. patient navigator, outreach worker, etc.). We encourage you to nominate anyone who fits the above description!

To honor those efforts, MACHW has three awards:

  • Outstanding CHW of the Year Award
  • Outstanding CHW Supervisor of the Year Award
  • Outstanding CHW Program of the Year Award

The “Outstanding CHW of the Year Award” will recognize one outstanding CHW for her/his/their service and excellence. The “Outstanding CHW Supervisor of the Year Award” will recognize one outstanding CHW Supervisor for her/his/their service and excellence.  The “Outstanding CHW Program of the Year Award” will be given to a group of outstanding CHWs.

Awards are open to CHWs in Massachusetts. Nominations are due by April 16, 2020 to Patrice Jean, CCHW at patrice.jean@bmc.org. Download the nomination forms: