About the time the pandemic hit our shores, Providence was set to kick off its partnership with Charles R. Drew University of Medicine & Science, two other health systems and three low-cost clinics across Los Angeles. Partners Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Dignity Health’s Northridge Medical Center and clinics in San Pedro, the Westside and the San Fernando Valley sought to develop a Community Health Worker Training Academy to help link vulnerable populations to resources such as food, health care and, unexpectedly, COVID-19 education and vaccination.
The program was funded by a grant from the California Governor’s Office to create well-paying jobs for people in underserved communities who understand the needs of their neighbors and want to learn how to help meet those needs.
Providence has long trained community health workers as part of a wide-reaching community investment program of outreach to the elderly, the poor, those with chronic illness or mental illness, immigrants and other vulnerable populations. Partnering with community groups that are experts in food insecurity, housing, health education and other critical needs helps expand that outreach.
The partnership with the historically Black Drew University in Los Angeles altered its format before it began – providing virtual training to ensure safety. The six-month paid training includes five weeks of a standards-based curriculum that teaches the fundamentals of CHW roles, skills and responsibilities, followed by 21 weeks of on-the-job training in hospital and clinical settings throughout Los Angeles.
Providence and CDU plan to expand by connecting with more clinics and hospital partners in the region, intending to continue the academy beyond the two-year grant period.