Category: News

Job Opening: Director, Office of Community Health Workers

Looking for CHW leaders! This is a great opportunity to advance the workforce in Massachusetts.

Be part of a dynamic and high-functioning team advancing equity across the Commonwealth!  The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) is looking for a dynamic and self-motivated professional to provide strategic vision and leadership as the Director of the Office of Community Health Workers. The incumbent helps to carry out the mission of DPH by coordinating intra-agency and statewide capacity-building initiatives to strengthen the Community Health Worker (CHW) workforce, a public health workforce who applies their unique understanding of the experience, language and/or culture of the populations they serve in order to carry out their job functions. The Director of the Office of CHWs provides content expertise to support implementation of Massachusetts CHW certification, and provides overall leadership on efforts within the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention to promote the CHW workforce, including integration into primary care and behavioral health teams as well as sustainable funding as part of covered services.

See the complete job listing and apply here: https://massanf.taleo.net/careersection/ex/jobdetail.ftl?job=190005ZH

Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers 2019 Awards Recipients

For immediate release: 5/10/2019

Contact:
Lissette Blondet
(917) 602-1960
lblondet@machw.org
MACHW.org

The Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW) Awards 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 American Public Health Association’s 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.”

Awardees are nominated by peers, supervisors, and/or program managers based on criteria rooted on national best practices found here (machw.org/2019/03/2019-machw-awards-nominations/). Awards will be presented on Thursday, May 16 at the Annual CHW Conference in Norwood, Massachusetts.

This years’ recipients are:

Karina Osella
2019 Massachusetts Outstanding CHW of the Year

Karina is currently working for Greater Lynn Senior Services as a Care Coordinator within the North Region Long Term Services and Supports program (LTSS). The LTSS program is a person-centered, care coordination program offered to Medicaid members who are ages 3 to 64 who participate in an accountable care organization within the Merrimack Valley and North Shore. Karina conducts comprehensive assessments with her patients to support them in identifying their goals, as well as resources and supports needed.

Karina has worked as a CHW under different titles since 2005 when she began work at Boston Medical Center’s Dimock Detox as an HIV Counselor and Educator. Karina worked as an HIV tester, educator, and counselor for Boston Medical Center as well as East Boston Neighborhood Health Center until 2013. Karina began work at Lynn Community Health Center in 2012 where she worked in various programs as a CHW.

“In my work with Karina as her supervisor I was able to observe Karina’s ability to effectively support her patients in improving their whole health and wellness as well as overall quality of life. Karina is able to develop trusting and therapeutic relationships with her patients by demonstrating that she is accountable and committed to supporting her patients in meeting their needs,” said Emily Johnson, former Supervisor at Lynn Community Health Center.

“I had the opportunity to work with a few community members that had previously worked with Karina and they had shared with me the impact the work of Karina had made in their lives – from assisting them with making a phone call or accompanying them to their appointment to advocate for them. These testimonies from clients made me realize that the work we do as CHWs does not go unnoticed, and that our efforts make a difference,” said Andera Villeda, a CHW Colleague at Lynn Community Health Center.

Joaquin Rodriguez, BS, LADC l l
2019 Massachusetts Outstanding Supervisor of The Year Award

Joaquin currently works at Community Care Alliance as a HOW Clinical Preceptor, and Substance Abuse Coordinator. In this role, he supervises a team of community health workers who are primarily responsible for providing longitudinal care coordination, care management, and/or care delivery to a dedicated panel of individuals with significant medical, behavioral, and social complexities that require intensive clinical support.

Joaquin moved from Brooklyn, NY to Springfield, MA in 1990 after completing his drug treatment program. Joaquin has played a significant role in the outreach efforts in the North End of Springfield and the City of Springfield. He has substantial experience in providing overall program management and staff supervision and is highly qualified with over 29 years’ experience working with the Latino community.

Joaquin has worked with Gandara Mental Health Center, New North Citizen’s Council, Springfield South West Health Center, Brightwood Health Center, Springfield Health Department, Nueva Esperanza, Holyoke Street School, Preventive Medicine, and the YMCA/Liberty Crossing SRO. He has designed and implemented outreach trainings for the City of Springfield and other community-based organizations, and has deep knowledge of community resources and community providers.

Joaquin was nominated by his CHW team in recognition for his tireless advocacy for the CHW profession. His co-workers said:

“One of Joaquin’s strengths has been as a mentor to the whole team. He takes the time to explain our role and responsibilities within our organization and share a lot of his knowledge, experience, and what to do moving forward with whatever task or situation at the time.”

“Joaquin has created a ‘work flow’ structure for us. The team meetings and individual supervision are the places to discuss our members, issues or concerns, boundaries, and success. He helps us stay focused on the day to day work as CHWs.”

 

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2019 MACHW Awards Nominations

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).

In 2019, three awards will be given. 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. Please refer to the group packet to apply for these awards. Applications due April 16, 2019.

All MACHW awardees will be announced and recognized at the 10th Annual CHW Conference, which will be held in Norwood, Massachusetts on May 16, 2019.

2018 Awards Given at Annual CHW Conference

The Massachusetts Association of Community Health Workers (MACHW) announced and recognized 3 outstanding awardees from across the Commonwealth on May 3, 2018 at the 9th Annual Community Health Worker Conference held in Norwood, MA. MACHW wanted 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). In 2018, three awards were given.

This year, the awardees include:

  • Hendrick Hernandez, of Greater New Bedford Community Health Center, will receive the 2018 Outstanding CHW of the Year Award in recognition of his compassion and excellence in serving the Commonwealth’s most deserving neighbors.
  • John Kempersal, of Southcoast Health, will receive the 2018 Outstanding CHW Supervisor of the Year Award in recognition of his excellence in supporting and coaching CHWs.
  • Lowell General Hospital’s Circle Care Program will receive the 2018 Outstanding CHW Program of the Year Award in recognition of their team’s compassion and excellence in serving the Commonwealth’s most deserving neighbors.

Each of these awardees demonstrated effectiveness at improving the health of their clients, increasing their client’s access to health care, and tailoring the program to better meet their community’s needs. They also improved the quality of their client’s care by providing cultural mediation, facilitating improved doctor-client communication, and by providing linkages to health and social services.

One example of Hendrick Hernandez’s commitment to improving the health of his patients at Greater New Bedford Community Health Center involves his work with helping people who struggle to maintain their health insurance. Mr. Hernandez has a patient who was on a 1-year voucher program through a pharmaceutaical company for his HIV medications. As that 1-year period of coverage was ending, that patient struggled to apply for the state funded assistance program. Mr. Hernandez worked tirelessly and communicated with the patient regularly to help the patient overcome several barriers to coverage. He even met with the patient at his job site in order to put together the documentation that was needed to apply for coverage. Mr. Hernandez never gave up on his patient and never judged him for the barriers he was experiencing. With Mr. Hernandez’s help, his patient was able to maintain employment and maintain his health as best he could.

Similarly, John Kempersal has demonstrated a commitment to improving the health of his community by fostering leadership among CHWs at Southcoast Health. The program John supervises has been so successful that Southcoast Health has moved forward with hiring a full complement of CHWs to be part of the new Accountable Care Organization (ACO) initiative. CHWs on his team wrote that they feel he is a mentor to all 15 of them and inspires them to use their individual strengths to change the lives of others. “He promotes self-awareness and self-respect within the group of CHWs which enabled our team to work very well together and talk about our differences in front of each other.” John also advocates that each CHW have access to education whether it be directly from the CHEC Boston program or by having CHWs learn from each other. One CHW wrote, “we all look forward to our weekly CHW support group. This time is used for us. We discuss our accomplishments and our defeats. The intent isn’t to complain but to motivate our growth.” John is also skilled at improving the program by listening to suggestions from CHWs. “If we suggest an idea about improving the program, he brings the idea to our superiors and gives credit where credit is due.”

Lowell General Hospital’s Circle Care Program nominated their outstanding group of CHWs for the 2018 Outstanding CHW Program of the Year Award including Mara DaSilva, Soriya Chhun, Deborah Ryan, Shawn Jalbert, Gail Jean, and June Taing. This team helps patients avoid unnecessary hospital visits and served over 2,300 individuals over the last two years. Overall, the program has had many success stories of patients who once utilized the hospital over a handful of times a year, now have their health successfully managed and have been out of the hospital for over 18 months.

As described in their nomination, these CHWs are an indispensable part of the program. “They are first to engage the patient and from there they identify barriers to care and drivers of utilization. They assess the patients’ medical, behavioral, and social needs, and initiate the appropriate referrals. They participate in designing the individual treatment and care plan, aid the patient in completing the tasks necessary for emotional and physical stability, and serve as the liaison between the patient and the other members of the healthcare team…They facilitate engagement and the necessary follow through that is lacking in our current health care system. The CHWs have been able to reach out to communities that individual health care providers do not have access to. They were asked to find the homeless at the local shelter as well as at tent sites and alleys. They were asked to be the eyes and ears in the community and visit strangers in their homes and report back to the team. They saw poverty, addiction, loneliness, isolation and social marginalization and they extended a hand and then didn’t let go. We are so fortunate to have this experienced staff that enjoys the work that they do and set out every day to make a difference in someone’s life.”

MACHW Advocates for Living Wage

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 the skills and wages of community health workers (CHWs).[1] Community health workers are a unique and increasingly significant part of the healthcare and public health workforce. There is national consensus on core CHW roles and skills,[2] and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) recognizes CHWs as an important health occupation for improving health outcomes and reducing costs.

The commissioned report found, however, that CHWs in Massachusetts receive considerably lower pay than those in occupations that require some similar skills. In response, MACHW is recommending that employers consider adopting the following minimum salary range for CHWs:

Experience Salary
Entry 0 – 2 years $38,000- $42,000
Mid-Career 2- 5 years $42,000- $46,000
Senior 5+ years $46,000+

To date, most CHWs are not paid living wages. In 2016, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, CHWs in Massachusetts earned an average of $34,220 a year.[3] Research shows that that the CHW workforce is predominately women of color who likely support children. Using the MIT Living Wage Calculator for Massachusetts, the living wage for a single adult with 2 children is approximately $68,600 in annual earnings for a full time, year-round worker. We acknowledge living wages differ across the state. For example, a living wage for a single adult with two children living in Boston is $71,718 a year compared to $61,152 for those living in Franklin County. We also recognize the importance of acknowledging years of experience to improve retention rates.

The demand for CHWs is growing and without a corresponding increase in wage growth, it will become more difficult to recruit, hire and retain CHWs.

 

[1] University of Massachusetts’ Center for Social Policy. Community Health Workers: Wages, Skills and Roles. Boston, MA; March 2018.

[2] Rosenthal EL, Rush CH, Allen CG; Project on CHW Policy & Practice. Understanding scope and competencies: a contemporary look at the United States community health worker field: progress report of the community health worker (CHW) core consensus (C3) project: building national consensus on CHW core roles, skills, and qualities. 2016.

[3] Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Massachusetts Statewide CHW Workforce Surveillance Survey. Boston, MA; November 2016.

 

 

Backstage with Keynote Speaker, Dr. Thea James

By Corina Pinto

When I first heard Dr. Thea James speak, I felt vindicated. She said, “it’s not about filling the gaps, it’s about eliminating them.” Finally, a physician articulated the way I have always viewed community health work and advocacy. Community health workers (CHWs) strive to eliminate gaps in healthcare, not simply providing a temporary fix. I had the honor of interviewing Dr. James, a senior leader at one of the largest accountable care organizations (ACOs) in Massachusetts, who is leading the way for integrating CHWs into healthcare teams. Conference participants will have a chance to hear her speak on May 3rd but let’s learn more about her first…

How can CHWs help in removing gaps and not just filling them?

Dr. James: For CHWs to remove gaps, the system requires a paradigm shift in the way that health outcomes are achieved. The biggest barrier CHWs have to eliminate gaps is the mindset of the current system. If the system’s interpretation of health care delivery is based on episodes and not about the root causes, the impact of CHWs will be limited. The goals of our current health care system and the goals of our patients are misaligned. Healthcare needs to understand what people want.

Also, CHWs do great work in simply engaging people, which has a huge impact. CHWs ask the question, “What matters to you? What’s important to you?” Those questions make a difference in patient’s lives.

Where does that misalignment between the goals of the health care system and the goals of patients/community stem from?

Dr. James: It stems from how we [physicians] are educated and trained. We are trained to function based on episodes not root causes. Now, new interns who are coming in to be trained at BMC receive a social determinants of health training where they go through a real case study and have to find the root causes to illness instead of just pushing medications and moving on.

Have you worked with CHWs before?

Dr. James: In 2006, the Mayor of Boston asked us to start a violence prevention program. We began to look at other models and saw that the measure of success was based on things like re-injury, incarceration and I thought why are we setting such low bars for people? In designing our program, we decided to set high bars and expectations for not only our patients but also our community health advocates (CHWs). We started off with just two community health advocates and now we have nine. One of the best outcomes we’ve had is with a community health advocate that we hired. He was 23 years old, shot a couple of times and was previously incarcerated. Five years later he had an MBA.

Why do you use the title “community health advocates” instead of “community health workers”?

 Dr. James: We chose the name because we did not want the employees to be seen as a social service worker. We want them to be advocates first in all areas that they find themselves in, whether that be in navigating a housing situation or finding any resource. We did not want to title to limit what the advocates did.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for CHWs to be successful in the new ACO landscape?

Dr. James: Yes, you will have to wait and see. That will be the topic of my address during the CHW Conference on May 3rd!

Call for Nominations: 2018 MACHW Awards

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).

In 2018, three awards will be given. 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. Please refer to the group packet to apply for these awards. Applications due April 13, 2018.

The Caring Health Center, Inc. Community Health Worker Program receives the 2017 Massachusetts Outstanding CHW Program of the Year Award

All MACHW awardees will be announced and recognized at the 9th Annual CHW Conference, which will be held in Norwood, Massachusetts on May 3, 2018.

New Employer Resources

A successful community health worker (CHW) program needs a thoughtful plan for recruitment, supervision and training of CHWs, their supervisors and the larger team. Employers can save their organizations time and resources by tailoring their standard HR processes for this specialized workforce.

MACHW can help. Our new Employer Resource Center is an online and onsite resource for accountable care organizations (ACOs), hospitals, community health centers and other social service providers considering or currently implementing a CHW program. Our goal is to both improve program effectiveness and improve CHW retention and satisfaction.

Online, employers can view evidence-based practices for designing and implementing CHW programs. Employers can also post and search job descriptions in real time.

Need more? MACHW also offers onsite consultation and training. We are proud to announce we now offer a 20 hour training for new hires. The training will ready CHWs to understand and work within ACOs and systems of care. The training will also provide tools for communicating effectively with their care teams and with patients with complex chronic conditions. This training is the product of a partnership between MACHW, the Justice Resource Institute (JRI), and the Center for Primary Care at Harvard Medical School.

For technical assistance or training needs, contact Lissette Blondet at lblondet@machw.org.

MACHW Grows Reach

First, we’d like to publically acknowledge and thank Jackie Toledo for all her efforts to promote CHWs over the last 4 years. MACHW will miss her dearly and we wouldn’t be where we are today without her. We wish her the best of luck in her next endeavors.

Moving forward, MACHW is excited to announce we are able to expand our reach with the help of Jaime Berberena, Corina Pinto, and Cindy Martin. As a Regional Chapter Coordinator, Jamie will be developing a MACHWita in the Southcoast. Corina, our new Membership Coordinator, will be developing MACHWitas in Boston and the Northeast. Lastly, Cindy is enhancing our communications efforts by regularly updating our website and Facebook page.

 

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.