After only two years, the Community Health Worker (CHW) project of the Dan River Region has won two awards for its efforts and positive impact. The Health Collaborative presented the CHW project with the 2018 THRIVE! Award at its annual Health Summit on Oct. 25. Health Quality Innovators (HQI) selected the CHW project as the first runner-up for its Rural Health category of their annual Virginia Innovators Awards event on Oct. 24.

“The Community Health Worker Initiative is an innovative coalition model, promoting evidence-based practices and promising strategies in rural healthcare implementation. The relationships and commitment CHWs have with their patients, along with their ability to identify barriers to good health, enrich the work of a larger community health improvement effort,” said Elyse Jardine, Project Manager of The Health Collaborative. “The CHW Initiative plays a vital role in the successes of The Health Collaborative and our work towards building a healthier, more vibrant and resilient Dan River Region.”

CHWs are public health workers who serve as a link between healthcare, social services and community members to increase access to services and improve health management. CHWs improve clients’ ability to manage their health through a series of activities including outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy. The CHWs will provide clients personalized assistance to develop a health management plan, assist with acquisition of treatment, and educate and inform on health maintenance. They also educate providers about clients’ health needs.

“Driving economic transformation is what the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research strives to achieve each day,” said Mark Gignac, Executive Director of the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), which serves as the fiscal agent and project lead for the CHW project. “Creating healthy communities is one aspect of our mission we must always keep top of mind, because it directly impacts our economic vitality.”

“I am extremely proud of the hard work and passion demonstrated by each of our Community Health Workers and Project Manager Amanda Young,” said IALR’s Director of Advanced Learning Dr. Julie Brown, who oversees the CHW project. “They more than understand the importance of promoting healthy, sustainable lifestyles that enhance our region’s social, economic and physical well-being, and they are delivering impressive results.”

The THRIVE! Awards are given in honor of Laurie Moran, founding convener and former Coordinating Committee member of The Health Collaborative. The CHW project won one of seven awards, which were presented to “organizations and individuals who are going above and beyond to make the healthy choice the easy choice in the places where we live, learn, work, play, pray and age,” according to The Health Collaborative’s website. The award includes $500 in THRIVE! Funds to continue impacting health in the region, which includes Caswell County, N.C., and Danville and Pittsylvania County, Va.

The CHW project’s second award, presented as part of the 2018 Health Quality Innovator of the Year Awards, recognizes teams “for using evidence-based approaches to quality improvement that deliver better care, better population health and lower health care costs,” according to HQI’s website. The awards cover five categories: collaboration, data-driven care, patient-centered care, population health and rural health, which “recognizes rural health care facilities that have made outstanding contributions to rural health care.”

Partners of the CHW project include IALR, The Health Collaborative, PATHS Community Medical Center, Gateway Health and the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

IALR serves Virginia as a regional catalyst for economic transformation with applied research, advanced learning, conference center services and economic development efforts. The Institute’s major footprint focuses within Southern Virginia, including the counties of Patrick, Henry, Franklin, Pittsylvania, Halifax and Mecklenburg along with the cities of Martinsville and Danville.

PhotoThe following Community Health Workers of the Dan River Region posed with their 2018 THRIVE! Award and Health Quality Innovators Rural Health award (left to right): Dawaun Carter, Vernel Salley, Martina Tatum, Alexia Waltington, Kenya Elliott, Jennifer Canada, Tameka Coles, Marlo Burton, Stephen Coles, Chaquita Chappell and LaKendra Lipscomb. Not pictured: Crystal Deshazor.

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