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Community Health Program Coordinators


Throughout the history of the United States, there have always been communities that lacked access to health care and social services, and local, state, and federal government agencies created a variety of programs to assist them. But it wasn’t until 1967 that the first specialized occupation was created to help these groups. In that year, the first formal community health worker (CHW) program was created with the founding of the Community Health Aide Program by the Office of Economic Opportunity. The program aimed to improve health literacy and outcomes for Native Americans in Alaska. The career of community health program coordinator developed at the same time because there was a need for skilled professionals who could design and manage programs and supervise CHWs. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 included provisions that increased access to preventive health services under Medicaid (via the work of community health workers and managers and other public health professionals) and created funding for State Innovation Models, which aimed to help states improve health outcomes and quality of care while reducing health care expenditures. Some of these state-run models have incorporated community health professionals. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that some of the known outcomes of community health services include “improved access to health care services, increased health and screening, better understanding between community members and the health and social service system, enhanced communication between community members and health providers, increased use of health care services, improved adherence to health recommendations, and reduced need for emergency and specialty services.”

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