Using health navigators to connect at-risk clients to community resources
J Public Health Manag Pract
Context: The coupling of health care services with complementary resources that address unmet social needs is a progressively popular approach for improving health outcomes among low-income populations. Community health workers are increasingly recognized as a helpful intermediary for clients navigating community and clinical services.
Program: The Wellness Center at the Historic General Hospital in East Los Angeles employs a team of community health workers, referred to as Health Navigators, who are trained to link low-income clients to resources such as chronic disease management programs, food pantries, free or low-cost legal aid, health insurance enrollment, group fitness classes, and counseling and peer support services.
Implementation: The Center's model of practice has evolved over time, continuously increasing the breadth and depth of services provided by the Health Navigator team. Its goal has been to address clients' unmet social needs while optimizing their health outcomes through the building of stronger community-clinical linkages.
Evaluation: A program review showed that Health Navigators serve as a critical bridge for clients navigating a complex network of health and social services. They actively engage, recruit, and deliver services to clients. Since 2014, the Health Navigator team has connected more than 28 000 unique clients to resources for health and well-being.
Discussion: By using Health Navigators to assist clients with community resource engagement, the Center has prototyped and promoted an approach that complements clinical care, strengthening the community-clinical linkages that are needed to meaningfully manage chronic disease outside of the hospital or clinic setting.
Menendez T, Barragan NC, Kuo T, Morrison JL. Using health navigators to connect at-risk clients to community resources. J Public Health Manag Pract. 2021 Jun 30. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001396. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34225304.