As the focus in health care shifts to preventive care and population health, a new apprenticeship program at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center is training and certifying Community Health Workers (CHWs) to help fill a growing demand. The pilot program is a joint effort involving multiple parties: 1199 Training and Education Fund (TEF), 11199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, LaGuardia Community College, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital and the NYC Department of Small Business Services, which is paying for the apprentices' salaries and training.
Community health workers, often hired by hospitals and nonprofits, make follow-up home visits to patients after hospitalization to ensure they're following doctors' orders and to hopefully prevent readmissions. They also work in various initiatives to improve population health by targeting chronic health problems, such as diabetes and asthma.
The apprenticeship program selected 15 participants, 11 of them already employed at the Bronx hospital in jobs as varied as patient transport, housekeeping and registration, to get trained as community health workers. The apprentices will receive 168 hours of on-site classroom learning, provided by LaGuardia instructors, and spend about an equal amount of time in the field and on the job. While in the field they are paired with mentors who already work as community health workers.
At the end of the training period, they'll receive a national credential from the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeships and get a significant bump in salary. The apprenticeship will enable health care workers to both upgrade their career skills and earn higher wages through a combination of mentorship and on-the-job training. In addition, researchers from SUNY Albany will be measuring and evaluating the impact of the program from both quantitative and qualitative outcomes, measuring how patients perceive the care, the return on investment and, ultimately, the impact on patient health.