Cleveland Clinic to double community health workers

Cleveland Clinic plans to double the staff for its Center for Community Health Workers over the next month to develop more patient advocates who receive specialized training in health equity. 

Cleveland Clinic established its Center for Community Health Workers in 2021 with funds from an $8 million gift from Jones Day. The program has trained 10 community health workers and aims to recruit an additional 10 people from the community to meet the needs of more patients.   

Community health workers are "neighbors helping neighbors," as described by Vickie Johnson, chief community officer at Cleveland Clinic. They receive specialized training in health equity, conduct home visits, screen patients for medical and social needs and help connect patients with community services. 

Food insecurity, housing instability, transportation and overdue utilities are the most common social needs addressed by Cleveland Clinic's community health workers. Expectant mothers make up the largest demographic of patients served by the program. 

Cleveland Clinic is planning to expand the program into pediatrics and inpatient care with the management of chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease. 

"Our long-term goal is to see community health workers deployed across our enterprise," Thao-Vi Dao, MD, an internist, pediatrician and medical director of Cleveland Clinic's Center for Community Health Workers, said. 

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