Building trust through community health workers in a rural environment
Supporting health-related social needs is increasingly recognized as important in addressing health disparities among vulnerable patients, but a patient’s willingness to engage in social needs screening and support requires trust in their care team. Rural communities’ emphasis on self-reliance and general distrust of institutions are barriers providers often face when seeking to develop trust with rural patients. At St. Mary’s & Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics, a rural healthcare organization serving the North Central Idaho community, community health workers (CHWs) are uniquely positioned in care teams to develop strong relationships with patients through community health events, home-based screening, and coordinating clinical and social care.
During this webinar, we welcomed Vicky Peterson, Barbara Cleary, Leah Kaschmitter, and Christine Packer from St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospitals and Clinics to share the barriers they face in gaining the trust of their community and the effective elements of a CHW-based program that lead to trusted interpersonal relationships and greater patient engagement.
This webinar was one of a three-part webinar series featuring grantees of the Bridging the Gap: Reducing Disparities in Diabetes Care, a five-year initiative supported by the Merck Foundation that aims to improve access to high-quality diabetes care and reduce health disparities for vulnerable populations with diabetes. Although the initiative focuses on people living with diabetes, their experiences with integrated medical and social care and cross-sector collaboration can be extended to support individuals living with a range of complex chronic health conditions and social needs.
- Barbara Cleary, CHW, St. Mary’s & Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics
- Christine Packer, Performance Improvement Officer, St. Mary’s & Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics
- Leah Kaschmitter, CHW, St. Mary’s & Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics
- Vicky Peterson, Clinic Director, Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics
- Rich Gauthier, MBA, MA, Program Manager, Bridging the Gap: Reducing Disparities in Diabetes Care, University of Chicago