Skip to Main Content

Community Health Workers: Care Away from the Clinic

Guests include Dr. Connie White, senior deputy commissioner at the Kentucky Department for Public Health and Sherry Duffy, deputy director for the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky.
Season 14 Episode 18 Length 27:23 Premiere: 03/24/19

Community Health Workers: Care Away from the Clinic

Maintaining good health is a constant process that extends beyond receiving care from doctors, nurses, and other professionals at a clinic or hospital. Many persons also require instruction and support to help them manage chronic diseases, maintain prescriptions, keep appointments, and improve their daily lifestyle habits. Community health workers help fill in these gaps in care, and have provided a vital support system for Kentuckians in several counties.

In this episode of Kentucky Health, host Dr. Wayne Tuckson welcomes the deputy commissioner from Kentucky’s public health department and the deputy director of a health institute at the University of Louisville to discuss the important role community health workers play in improving public health.

Dr. Connie White is the senior deputy commissioner at the Kentucky Department of Public Health and is an obstetrics-gynecologist by training. Sherry Duffy is deputy director for the Commonwealth Institute of Kentucky, a policy organization in the University of Louisville’s School of Public Health that supports collaborative research, analytics, and outreach projects, including a community health worker training program.

According to White, a community health worker functions within the health care system in a support role to physicians and nurses. The typical community health worker is “someone that looks like you, sounds like you, and shares your culture, and has life experiences similar to yours,” White says.

How Community Health Workers Improve Public Health

In years past, persons often had family members or neighbors to assist them when health problems arose, but in modern 21st-century America, those relationships are less common. And people living in the many rural areas of Kentucky can become isolated. Community health workers are instructed to go out into the neighborhoods and regions and meet patients in their homes, using a proactive, personal approach that builds trust, White and Duffy explain.

“They allow people not with a clinical background but with some life experiences to come into your life and say, ‘Let me help you through this, let me coach you through this,” White says.

Duffy says that the community health worker model is being used in several other states in the U.S., adding that most MCOs (managed care organizations) in Kentucky have one or two community health workers on staff.

White talks about a recent time when a community health workers stepped in to help a patient with health problems, away from the hospital and/or physician’s office. In the Barren County River District area close to Glasgow and Bowling Green, a patient with chronic renal failure was being admitted to the hospital several times a year, racking up exorbitant expenses without improving his health. A community health worker assigned to the patient asked him why he wasn’t attending his dialysis clinic regularly, assuming that there may have been a conflict. As it turned out, the patient lacked a way to get to the clinic.

“Once this community health worker connected him with reliable transportation, he wasn’t in the hospital anymore,” White says.

Both guests agree that transportation issues affect many people in Kentucky and are an obstacle against improving public health in the state.

“In rural areas, it’s getting a vehicle,” Duffy says. “In urban settings, another big stumbling block is in West Louisville and South Louisville, the sidewalks we have are crumbling. Let’s say you’re a Type 2 diabetic, and you’ve had an amputation and you’re in a wheelchair, if you can’t navigate your streets – or if the violence is so bad where you live that you can’t navigate walking on two legs where you need to go to get to the bus – it’s a problem.”

Community health workers also advise patients on making lifestyle changes and remind them to take their medications and refill their prescriptions. The public health department in Montgomery County started employing community health workers in 2006, first with the goal of helping the Latino population and subsequently expanding to assist citizens county-wide.

“In Montgomery County, community health workers improve people’s adherence to their medications by 68 percent,” White says.

Duffy talks about two studies done through U of L’s Public Health Department that illustrate how community health workers can improve health literacy in a given population and can also boost health outcomes by using data to consult with patients who have chronic health conditions.

In the first, study, researchers went into West Louisville and South Louisville and asked residents how they learned about Kentucky’s expanded Medicaid coverage; the majority of them learned through face-to-face interaction with fellow community members. The second study uses predictive analytics to track Medicaid patients with Type 2 diabetes, so that community health workers can intervene and recommend lifestyle changes before the disease progresses.

Better Health Outcomes Lead to Lower Health Care Costs

Both White and Duffy acknowledge that increasing the amount of community health workers in Kentucky’s health care system will be challenging in the current fiscal climate. Kentucky does not reimburse for community health workers through Medicaid, unlike neighboring Indiana. But several organizations and health departments – such as the above-mentioned ones in Montgomery County and the Barren River region – are showing how valuable community health workers are in helping patients manage disease and lead healthier lives, which also significantly reduces medical costs.

A major aspect of cost-saving occurs when hospital re-admittance rates decline, White says. A study done by Kentucky Homeplace in Hazard, which started training community health workers in 1994, followed patients who had suffered a stroke after they had been discharged from the hospital. The patients were offered community health workers to consult with during their recovery, and of the group that accepted the help, none were re-admitted for a condition related to their initial stroke.

Results from another project in the Barren River district found that 77 percent of persons involved with community health workers reached their blood pressure target.

“So if we can get people’s blood pressure down, if we can get them taking their medication, if we can get them well enough where they don’t need to be re-admitted to the hospital, those cost savings are enormous,” White says.

As the community health worker approach becomes more widespread in Kentucky, both White and Duffy agree that a standardized training and certification program needs to be created and implemented statewide. Although each community health worker interacts with patients using a personal approach suited for their surroundings – an essential part of their care – both guests believe that training community health workers in basic medical knowledge and social services will help the medical systems in each area of the state expand their programs with more confidence and reach more people.

“We want competencies, we want to approve these [curricula], so we can give you a certificate and you won’t just be a CHW, you’ll be a CCHW – a certified community health worker,” White says.

Sponsored by:

The words, "YOUNG WRITERS CONTEST" on a variegated colorful background along with a LEARN MORE button.The words, "YOUNG WRITERS CONTEST" on a variegated colorful background along with a LEARN MORE button.

Season 14 Episodes

2019 Legislative Review: Bills Related to Health and Health

S14 E25 Length 26:47 Premiere Date 05/12/19

Lead and Other Everyday Environmental Dangers

S14 E24 Length 26:59 Premiere Date 05/05/19

Tobacco Cessation: The Power of Group Education and Support

S14 E23 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 04/28/19

Quality and Safety in Healthcare: What's Important

S14 E22 Length 27:07 Premiere Date 04/21/19

Vaccinations: Who, What, When, and Why?

S14 E21 Length 26:33 Premiere Date 04/14/19

The Adolescent Brain and Substance Use

S14 E20 Length 27:09 Premiere Date 04/07/19

Epilepsy: Medical and Surgical Treatment

S14 E19 Length 27:33 Premiere Date 03/31/19

Community Health Workers: Care Away from the Clinic

S14 E18 Length 27:23 Premiere Date 03/24/19

The Flu: It's Not Just a Bad Cold

S14 E17 Length 26:56 Premiere Date 02/24/19

Financial and Mechanical Ways to Protect Our Teeth

S14 E16 Length 27:07 Premiere Date 02/17/19

Aging Optimally

S14 E15 Length 27:15 Premiere Date 02/10/19

Colon Cancer: To Screen or Not to Screen Is Not a Question

S14 E14 Length 27:16 Premiere Date 02/03/19

Autism

S14 E13 Length 26:34 Premiere Date 01/27/19

Leukemia and Lymphoma

S14 E12 Length 26:59 Premiere Date 01/20/19

Hypertension: The Silent but Consequential Disease

S14 E11 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 01/13/19

Genetic Testing: Not a Parlor Game

S14 E10 Length 27:01 Premiere Date 01/06/19

Trauma and Toxic Stress

S14 E9 Length 26:57 Premiere Date 12/16/18

Cancer and Immunotherapy

S14 E8 Length 27:10 Premiere Date 12/09/18

Intestinal Biome: We're in This Gut Together

S14 E7 Length 27:47 Premiere Date 11/18/18

Community Health Centers: Taking the Clinic to the Patient

S14 E6 Length 27:20 Premiere Date 11/11/18

Arthritis

S14 E5 Length 26:58 Premiere Date 11/04/18

Thyroid Disease

S14 E4 Length 27:21 Premiere Date 10/28/18

Breast Cancer

S14 E3 Length 27:05 Premiere Date 10/21/18

Weight Loss: Reasons, Options, Benefits

S14 E2 Length 28:48 Premiere Date 10/14/18

Chiropractic: A Good Back and Neck for a Healthy Body

S14 E1 Length 25:23 Premiere Date 10/07/18

See All Episodes

caret down

TV Schedules

Jump to Recent Airdates

Upcoming

Supplies Over Seas: Meeting Medical Supply Needs at Home and Overseas

“Supplies Over Seas” is rescuing medical devices, medications, and supplies, shipping them to communities in need, both at home and abroad. Denise Sears, president and C.E.O. of SOS International, talks about the group’s work.

  • Sunday December 4, 2022 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday December 3, 2022 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday December 4, 2022 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 4, 2022 8:00 am CT on KETKY

Over-the-Counter Medications: What's Safe and Are They Effective?

The cost of medical care is one reason some people turn to over-the-counter medications that appear to be equivalent to medications that require a prescription. Dr. Angela Sandlin, pharmacy director at Baptist Health La Grange, discusses supplements, minerals, vitamins, and other over-the-counter medications.

  • Sunday December 4, 2022 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 4, 2022 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 5, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday December 5, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday December 9, 2022 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 9, 2022 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday December 11, 2022 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday December 10, 2022 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday December 11, 2022 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday December 11, 2022 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday December 11, 2022 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 11, 2022 8:00 am CT on KETKY

Wastewater Surveillance: Community-Wide Swabbing for Infections

Infectious diseases can be tracked using wastewater. Dr. Eric Rouchka discusses wastewater epidemiology.

  • Sunday December 11, 2022 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday December 11, 2022 11:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday December 11, 2022 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 11, 2022 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 12, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday December 12, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday December 16, 2022 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 16, 2022 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday December 18, 2022 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday December 17, 2022 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday December 18, 2022 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday December 18, 2022 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday December 18, 2022 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 18, 2022 8:00 am CT on KETKY

Diet and Nutrition: The Halos and Horns of Our Food

Do we have the information to make the best choices when deciding what to eat? Dr. Tuckson discusses the "halos and horns of food" with registered dietician Marianne Smith Edge.

  • Sunday December 18, 2022 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday December 18, 2022 11:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday December 18, 2022 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 18, 2022 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 19, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday December 19, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday December 23, 2022 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 23, 2022 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday December 25, 2022 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday December 24, 2022 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday December 25, 2022 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday December 25, 2022 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday December 25, 2022 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 25, 2022 8:00 am CT on KETKY

COVID-19 and Monkeypox: Deja Vu All Over Again

Dr. Tuckson discusses COVID-19, monkeypox and the resurgence of sexually transmitted diseases with infectious disease specialist Dr. Mark Burns.

  • Sunday December 25, 2022 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday December 25, 2022 11:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday December 25, 2022 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday December 25, 2022 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday December 26, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday December 26, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday December 30, 2022 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 30, 2022 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday December 31, 2022 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 8:00 am CT on KETKY

Down Syndrome: Chromosome Number 21 is Just the Beginning

An expecting mother is told that her baby has trisomy 21 but doesn't understand exactly what that means. Dr. Tuckson talks about Down Syndrome with Julie Torzewski, executive director of Down Syndrome of Louisville.

  • Sunday January 1, 2023 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 11:30 am CT on KET
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday January 1, 2023 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday January 2, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday January 2, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KET2
Jump to Upcoming Airdates

Recent

Supplies Over Seas: Meeting Medical Supply Needs at Home and Overseas - S18 E1

  • Friday December 2, 2022 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday December 2, 2022 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 28, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday November 28, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 27, 2022 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 27, 2022 4:30 pm CT on KETKY

Insects: Most Are Good, But Watch the Bad - S18 E8

  • Sunday November 27, 2022 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 27, 2022 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 27, 2022 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 26, 2022 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 25, 2022 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday November 21, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 11:30 am CT on KET

Melanomas: The Consequence of Too Much Sun - S18 E7

  • Sunday November 20, 2022 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 19, 2022 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 18, 2022 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday November 14, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 11:30 am CT on KET

Healthy Practices: Inform, Cajole or Mandate, Whatever Works - S18 E6

  • Sunday November 13, 2022 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 12, 2022 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Monday November 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 5:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 4:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 12:30 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 11:30 am CT on KET

Diverticulosis: Little Pouches, Big Problems - S18 E5

  • Sunday November 6, 2022 9:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 8:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 7:00 am ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 6:00 am CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 12:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 5, 2022 11:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday November 4, 2022 1:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 4, 2022 12:30 pm CT on KETKY
Top

Explore KET