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Featured Member

If the Problems are in the Community, the Solutions are in the Community

Agnes 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."

Briefly, what is the mission of your organization? If you wanted our readers/members to know only one thing about your organization, what would it be?
What do you most want people to know about the work that you do and the unique characteristics of your organization?
What are you passionate about in your work? What has motivated you to become involved in community-university partnerships?
What is your dream for the future of your organization and/or community-campus partnerships you're involved in?
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?
What is the biggest challenge you face in your work and how are you working to overcome it? Or how have you overcome it?
If you could give advice to a policy maker (Congress, President, Secretary of Health, Surgeon General, etc.) what would you recommend or say?
Why did you join CCPH? How would you describe CCPH to your colleagues? And, specifically why did you join CCPH as an organizational member?
What does “community-campus partnership” mean to you?
What value do you see in being a member of CCPH to meet your future goals for your organization and for the field? What is your favorite part of CCPH?
What strengths and talents do you bring to CCPH?

How do you stay motivated?

Q: Briefly, what 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."


Q: What do you most want people to know about the work that you do and the unique characteristics of your organization?

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.

Q: What are you passionate about in your work?

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.

Q: What is your dream for the future of your organization and/or community-campus partnerships you're involved in?

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.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face in your work and how are you working to overcome it? Or how have you overcome it?

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.

Q: If you could give advice to a policy maker (Congress, President, Secretary of Health, Surgeon General, etc.) what would you recommend or say?

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.

Q: Why did you join CCPH? How would you describe CCPH to your colleagues? And, specifically why did you join CCPH as an organizational member?

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.

Q: What does “community-campus partnership” mean to you?

A: Community-campus partnership means that staff of the educational institution view community members as partners, not research subjects.

Q: What value do you see in being a member of CCPH to meet your future goals for your organization and for the field? What is your favorite part of CCPH?

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.

Q: What strengths and talents do you bring to CCPH?

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.

Q: How do you stay motivated?

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."

Agnes Hinton
Center for Sustainable Health Outreach
University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive, # 10015
Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001

Phone: (601) 266-6261
Fax: (601) 266-6262
E-mail: csho@usm.edu
Website: www.usm.edu/csho




To read about previous featured members click here.

 

 
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