Cleveland, OH,
07:30 AM

MetroHealth to Lead Regional Effort to Increase Number of Community Health Workers

MetroHealth Community Health Worker Pat Hardy

MetroHealth received a three-year, nearly $3 million federal grant to increase the number of front-line public health professionals who serve as a key link between health and social services providers in Northeast Ohio.

The grant from Health Resources and Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is part of a nationwide effort to build the pipeline of Community Health Workers (CHWs) to increase access to care, improve public health emergency response and address the public health needs of underserved communities.

The project is a joint effort of the Institute for H.O.P.E.™, The Population Health Research Institute and the MetroHealth Community Health Centers (our public entity Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike).

Katie Davis, RN, Executive Director, Center for Community and Corporate Health in The MetroHealth Institute for H.O.P.E.™ and Aleece Caron, PhD, Co-Director of Education, The Population Health Research Institute at MetroHealth and Associate Professor of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, will serve as co-principal investigators of the grant.

“A core component of a multi-disciplinary clinical team, Community Health Workers are hard to find. Then they are hard to hire. Then they are hard to keep,” Davis says. “By having a collaborative approach, we hope to raise the awareness of the importance of these positions. We have too many open positions and not enough people applying for them.”

“A core component of a multi-disciplinary clinical team, Community Health Workers are able to support meeting the needs of patients and their families,” Davis says. “While an essential role, recruitment and retention has posed some challenges. By having a collaborative approach, we hope to raise the awareness of the importance of these positions and enhance training and employment readiness.”

At any given time, 500 CHW jobs in Ohio are unfilled. Studies have shown that these professionals help reduce the number of hospitalizations and improve clinical outcomes of people living with chronic diseases.

Locally, the goal is to recruit and train a minimum of 240 trainees over three years. Much of the grant money will go directly to individuals in the form of stipends to help them overcome potential barriers (application costs, transportation, etc.) to enrolling in and completing the necessary training and certification.

CHWs have many other titles, among them patient navigator, peer counselor/educator and outreach worker. They work in a variety of settings including Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), health systems, schools and public health departments.

To become a CHW, individuals must complete a minimum of 100 classroom hours and a minimum of 130 clinical experience hours before they can be certified by the Ohio Board of Nursing.

As the lead organization, MetroHealth is organizing the Community Health Worker Capacity Building Collaborative (CHWCBC) that includes Better Health Partnership, other health systems and CHW training programs at Cuyahoga Community College, Cleveland State University and Kent State University, and other county and community partners throughout Northeast Ohio. MetroHealth leveraged its partnership with JobsOhio and its significant local investment in workforce development to bring this additional federal funding to Cuyahoga County.

About The MetroHealth System

Founded in 1837, MetroHealth is leading the way to a healthier you and a healthier community through service, teaching, discovery, and teamwork. Cuyahoga County’s public, safety-net hospital system, MetroHealth meets people where they are, providing care through five hospitals, four emergency departments and more than 20 health centers. Each day, our nearly 9,000 employees focus on providing our community with equitable healthcare — through patient-focused research, access to care, and support services — that seeks to eradicate health disparities rooted in systematic barriers. For more information, visit