Panel Discussion at SXSW Conference Positions Program as Model
The Community Health Worker (CHW) project of the Dan River Region received national attention during a March 11 panel discussion at the annual SXSW (South by Southwest) Conference, held in Austin, Texas. The panel, “The Community Health Worker of the Future,” discussed how data projects, public/private partnerships and digital health tools have shaped the way that communities provide essential outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy.
Dr. Julie Brown, Director of Advanced Learning at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), spoke as a panelist at the SXSW Energizing Health event and shared how the Dan River Region program has benefitted the health and well-being of citizens and how it can serve as a model to other areas seeking enhanced healthcare access. IALR serves as the fiscal agent and CHW project lead and works with many partners, including The Health Collaborative, PATHS Community Medical Center, Gateway Health, the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Caswell Family Medical Center, Danville Life Saving Crew, Sovah Health and Centra.
“As we continue to drive economic transformation in Southern Virginia, fostering and sustaining a healthy workforce and community remains a top priority,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director of IALR. “We are fortunate to enjoy strong partnerships that help the Community Health Worker initiative thrive and grow, and I’m excited about IALR’s role in helping elevate it as a model to other regions.”
Other panelists included Molly K. McCarthy, the National Director of the U.S. Provider Market and the Chief Nursing Officer for Microsoft’s U.S. Health and Life Sciences sector; Venus Gines, the President and Founder of Día De La Mujer Latina™ Inc.; and Dr. Tracey Green, the head of Aetna Medicaid’s Personalized Health.
The SXSW Energizing Health gathering aims to help the underserved population and marginalized groups by working together to eliminate systemic barriers to health and create healing communities. It focuses on creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, community advocates, venture capital, philanthropy, health organizations and industry.
CHWs are public health workers who serve as a link between healthcare, social services and community members to increase access to services and improve health management. CHWs improve clients’ ability to manage their health through a series of activities including outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy. The CHWs will provide clients personalized assistance to develop a health management plan, assist with acquisition of treatment, and educate and inform on health maintenance. They also educate providers about clients’ health needs. The Community Health Worker Initiative is a project under The Health Collaborative’s Access to Healthcare Action Team.
“The Community Health Worker Initiative is a critical component of The Health Collaborative’s community health improvement work,” said Elyse Jardine, Project Manager for The Health Collaborative. “Designed to improve individual health, community well-being and create a healthcare career pipeline, the CHW initiative strengthens the community’s ability to manage its chronic conditions while advocating for a healthier, more resilient Dan River Region.”