Whenever there is a call for action, WellShare does not shy away from creating a community where quality health care is accessible for everyone. New to the scene, the Mankato Community Health Worker (CHW) Hub will be the first established CHW hub in greater MN and one of the few existing around the country. This model of a financially sustainable cross-sector (clinical, payer, social service providers) CHW hub and robust partnerships addresses social determinants of health for residents of Mankato experiencing complex health conditions, and reduces health inequities.
Social determinants of health are conditions and factors contributing to a person’s education level, socioeconomic status, environment, and access to healthcare. These factors can limit and constrain the accessibility one has to essentials as well as growth and development. To ensure resources are accessible, Mankato leaders recognized a need to not only think about those left behind but put forth actions to help those left behind.
Initiated by WellShare, the hub will be an operations center for many different projects. The most immediate operational needs the new hub will address are COVID-19 response work and the local CHW infrastructure through our partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield Mankato clinic. CHWs are the pillars of fostering relationships within the community. Having a CHW Hub would allow for cohesiveness while prioritizing community needs without the competition of local CHWs. CHW services save money and lives by weaving connections between community members and multiple tiers in health and social services.
This project will focus on improving social determinants of health through the following proven CHW services, systems and tools:
- Health education
- Social service connections
- Interpersonal connectedness; breakdown isolation
- Evaluation of needs and success (social and health)
- Support partners operational and relational integration of CHW services
The Mankato hub represents an expansion of client populations for WellShare. While we have historically focused our work serving immigrants and refugee populations, the Mankato hub will be offering services to everybody with a need. The demographic will consist of Mankato Clinic patients who screen “positive” on the annual social determinants of health screener, patients referred by the Mankato Clinic care managers, and CHW referrals from other community-based work. This opportunity will increase UCare member support for Mankato Clinic patients and allow direct engagement for the CHW hub services to prioritize health education promotion and service navigation.
From one community to another, WellShare strives to demonstrate commitment to collaborative community health policy and advocacy. CHW engagement continues to grow as times change in order to sustain a health care system that works for everyone. The final health and financial data system to meet the capacity and needs of this program is still underway. We look forward to sharing this important journey with you!