Chronic disease is the leading cause of death for Ohioans. The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton is one of several organizations helping fund a three-year effort to use community health workers to help people manage chronic medical conditions in underserved and low-income neighborhoods in Alliance, Canton and Massillon. Dr. John Humphrey, executive director of the North Canton Medical Foundation, recently updated the foundation's board about the initiative and how supporting patients with chronic conditions with community health workers significantly improves outcomes.
Following are highlights of his presentation.
Dr. John Humphrey is on a mission to improve community health. And he believes community health workers are the key.
Dr. Humphrey is the executive director of the North Canton Medical Foundation. He recently updated the Sisters of Charity Foundation’s Board on a three-year effort to use community health workers (also known as CHWs) to help people manage chronic medical conditions in underserved and low-income neighborhoods in Alliance, Canton, and Massillon.
Chronic disease is the leading cause of death for Ohioans, with 62% of deaths caused by a combination of heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and cancer. These conditions disproportionally affect those with low incomes and low educational attainment.
But when CHWs support patients with chronic conditions, outcomes improve significantly. According to the National Institutes of Health, “CHWs are frontline agents of change, helping to reduce health disparities in underserved communities.
The CHWs provide support and health education, help patients navigate social services systems, and address barriers that prevent access to care. Because the CHWs are from the same neighborhoods as the clients and have similar lived experiences, there’s a sense of community, trust, and understanding that allows for meaningful and productive collaboration.
The project is managed by Access Health Stark County and funded by the Austin-Bailey Foundation, the Deuble Foundation, Employers Health, the Hoover Foundation, the North Canton Medical Foundation, the Paul & Carol David Foundation, the Sisters of Charity Foundation, and Stark Community Foundation.
As the work has progressed, the project has been increasingly successful at gaining Medicaid reimbursement. And because the return on investment is clear and compelling, Dr. Humphrey believes it’s only a matter of time before local hospitals, which benefit greatly from this work, begin to embrace the CHW model as critical to both their missions and their bottom lines.
The Sisters of Charity Foundation of Canton is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.
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