If the Problems are in the Community, the Solutions are in the Community
Hinton is co-director of the Center
for Sustainable Health Outreach (CSHO), a collaboration between the
University of Southern Mississippi Department of Community Health Sciences
and Georgetown University Law Center. CSHO provides support and technical
assistance to community health workers (CHWs) and CHW programs in program
development and support, funding and sustainability strategies, public
policy development, strategic planning assistance, education and training,
and program evaluation. The Center also assists CHWs and CHW programs
by facilitating partnerships with funders, policy makers, health systems,
and community organizations. The Center serves as a national point of
contact for CHWs and CHW programs and provides them with reliable, up-to-date
information on emerging trends in the field. CSHO believes that "If
the problems are in the community, the solutions are in the community."
is the mission of your organization? If you wanted our readers/members
to know only one thing about your organization, what would it be?
A: The Center for Sustainable
Health Outreach (CSHO) supports the role of community health workers as
an essential component of sustainable community wellness. As members of
the communities they serve, community health workers provide culturally,
linguistically, and otherwise appropriate outreach, prevention, intervention,
and treatment services, which are based in, and reflect, the value systems
of the community. CSHO believes that "If the problems are in the
community, the solutions are in the community."
A: The Center for Sustainable
Health Outreach (CSHO) is a collaboration between the University of Southern
Mississippi Department of Community Health Sciences and Georgetown University
Law Center. For over five years our staff members have provided support
and technical assistance to community health workers (CHWs) and CHW programs
in program development and support, funding and sustainability strategies,
public policy development, strategic planning assistance, education and
training, and program evaluation. The Center also assists CHWs and CHW
programs by facilitating partnerships with funders, policy makers, health
systems, and community organizations. The Center serves as a national
point of contact for CHWs and CHW programs and provides them with reliable,
up-to-date information on emerging trends in the field. Our web site,
www.usm.edu/csho, contains information about model community health worker
programs that we promote, such as the Maternal Infant Health Outreach
Worker program and the Community Health Advisor Network. We also conduct
an annual Unity Conference for CHWs and their supporters; the next one
will be held in New Orleans, July 10-13, 2006. A call for abstracts is
on our web site.
A: I am so impressed with the
impact of community health workers, both paid and volunteer, on the well-being
of their clients, friends, neighbors, family, and community. While I do
believe that health professionals such as doctors, nurses, nutritionists,
health educators, and social workers play an important role in delivering
health services and health promotion activities, I have seen first-hand
how their value can be greatly magnified by support from community health
workers. They know how to reach many so-called high-risk individuals,
and can help other health professionals better understand how to design
and deliver health services so that they are culturally appropriate.
A: My dream for CSHO at the University
of Southern Mississippi is that our activities will be so embedded in
the services of the university that we will be very sustainable, despite
funding fluctuations. I also dream of community health workers getting
the professional recognition that they deserve. One avenue to accomplish
this is the formation of a National Network for Community Health Workers,
as well as state or regional organizations in all parts of the U.S. My
dream for the Deep South Network for Cancer Control, which utilizes a
community-based participatory research approach, is that the community
will truly "take over" the program, and that it will thrive
independently of National Cancer Institute funding.
Q: What wisdom would you like to communicate to others in this field or to your colleagues (similar to tips and lessons learned)? What advice would you give to others? What advice would you give to a student or professional just entering into the field?
A: I strongly believe in empowering
those with whom we work, so that they "outgrow" the need for
our help. I also believe that "one size does not fit all"-as
anyone that's ever put on panty hose should know! What works in one community
or group may need to be greatly altered for the next. I believe that the
field of health promotion is a very rewarding one-perhaps not financially,
but definitely in terms of making a difference for others. We need to
be humble, and listen to those with whom we work.
A: Funding continues to be a challenge, especially for broad-based, community-driven health promotion. Professional "turfism" presents challenges to the recognition of community health workers. My approach to program support is to have as diversified a funding base as possible, including non-traditional funding sources. And, of course, one enhances one's chances of success by well-targeted, frequent funding requests. Regarding "turfism," I try to have leaders who are well regarded in their profession speak to the value of community health workers.
My biggest challenge is not to
become discouraged by the constant effort required to keep services funded.
Observing the work at the community level that CSHO helps facilitate is
a great motivator. The single biggest refresher is participating in our
annual Unity Conference, where I hear from and meet with community health
workers from all over the U.S. who are doing truly amazing work.
A: We must direct more resources towards health promotion and disease prevention and less to direct medical services, especially at the end of life. We need to recognize the role of all allied health workers, including community health workers.
A: Through CCPH I have access
to a variety of timely resources regarding health promotion activities
and funding opportunities. CCPH is a network of members who wish to promote
partnerships between educational institutions and communities. An organizational
membership means that several of my staff members have direct access to
your resources, not just me.
A: Community-campus partnership means that staff of the educational institution view community members as partners, not research subjects.
A: Timely notice of funding opportunities allows me
to diversify my search for financial support, and gives me ideas for ways
to better integrate the services of CSHO into University of Southern Mississippi.
A: I have over 20 years of experience
in public health. I have great respect and admiration for the work many
grassroots leaders perform every day in their communities. My education
in nutrition and public health give me a broad academic background. I
have extensive grant writing experience, having written or co-authored
over 13 million dollars worth of funded projects.
A: For staying motivated about my work, working in my flower garden helps a lot, too. When I'm pulling weeds or observing beautiful plants, petty challenges seem like a "piece of cake."