Lending a Health Care Helping Hand

Community health workers (CHW) are rising to the top of the list of who to know in South Dakota communities. But what is a CHW? A CHW is a person who helps to create connections and relieves pressures from individuals and health care professionals. CHWs help individuals locate community resources and navigate the health care system. They can be a valuable asset to any community.  

Community Health Worker and Emergency Medical Technician Alyssa Olson from the Brookings Health System points out,  

“Increasing awareness of Community Health Workers and their role in improving the health of a community is crucial in maximizing the full potential of the workforce. ” 

The South Dakota Foundation for Medical Care (SDFMC) supports the Community Health Worker Collaborative’s efforts to expand this network of valuable health care professionals into health care and community organizations across the state.  Furthermore, the number of CHWs has more than doubled! 

Brookings Health System is one of the organizations who received funding to integrate a CHW into their system.  Those who attend the Best Practice Briefs session will learn how integrating CHWs reduced emergency department (ED) visits and readmissions.

“The program has facilitated establishment of primary care for a few patients who previously lacked this and improved care coordination. Increased self-sustainability, health knowledge, and confidence have been observed in patient’s enrolled in the program.” Olson concluded, “The Community Health Worker program at Brookings Health System has improved patient outcomes, thus reducing strain on the healthcare system and improving overall community health.”