CHWs from HFP Member Health Centers Complete 8-part Training Series: Becoming a Trauma-Informed CHW/Field Worker

Philadelphia community health workers

Philadelphia, PA  Nearly two dozen community health workers (CHWs) from five of the Health Federation of Philadelphia’s (HFP) member health centers took part in an 8-part training series entitled Becoming a Trauma-Informed CHW/ Field Worker, which wrapped up on June 4.  

Funding for the training was provided through The Philly Difference: Connections for Better Chronic Care, a partnership with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health funded by the Centers for Disease Control. CHWs at health centers work with many patients who suffer from multiple chronic diseases, including hypertension and diabetes. Led by HFP senior training specialist Marcy Witherspoon, LSW, the trainings were developed by Witherspoon in consultation with Spectrum Health Services, Inc.

The sessions, which spanned January – June, were tailored to the needs of the group and expanded their knowledge base by introducing participants to a number of different scenarios they may see in the field. “When I did my initial CHW training, it was a broad overview.  This training provided me with a better look at the various types of patients I might encounter in my work.  It changed my approach to my clients – and will help me benefit the community,” shared Michelle Lloyd, a Spectrum Health CHW. 

Coursework included lessons such as: An Introduction to the World of Community Health Workers through a Trauma-Informed Lens, Home Visiting Etiquette & Safety, Blurred Lines: Maintaining Professional Boundaries, Intimate Partner Violence: How its Presence Affects Health & Decision Making, Verbal De-escalation Strategies to Manage a Conflict, Secondary Traumatic Stress & Self-Care, The Hows & Whys of Documentation, and The Importance of Listening & Reflection/Final Wrap-Up. 

Witherspoon shared her thoughts on the training, and the important role CHWs play in their communities, "Adequate CHW training is essential to the changing landscape of medical care, where it is finally being recognized that patient health is affected by many social, cultural and environmental factors. The addition of a CHW to the care team addresses the disconnect between clinical care and communities and highlights the reality of patients' lives and perspectives,” she said.

Lakesha Troublefield, a CHW at Project HOME said the training helped her in obtaining knowledge to be a better CHW. “This training will help me to deliver services to the population I work with, both in the clinic and in the community at large,” said Troublefield. “I’m going to incorporate the trainings, teachings, and things I’ve learned about into my work.”

For more information on trainings for community health workers, please call the Health Federation of Philadelphia’s Senior Director of Special Initiatives and Consulting, Leslie Lieberman, at 215-567-8001.