Community health workers (CHWs) are recognized for bridging communities and health care systems; yet, there is limited discussion of CHWs' roles as organizational actors within and outside clinics. Individual semistructured interviews (n = 21) were conducted in 4 Gulf Coast states with CHWs and supervisors to examine the bridging function of CHWs from a community health center's perspective. Results highlight that CHWs can function as gatekeepers and ambassadors who extend the clinics' reach in the community, enhance patient access to resources, and improve organizational efficiency. This study demonstrates the value that CHWs can bring for clients and clinics as organizational actors.
Center for Gulf Coast Environmental Health Research, Leadership & Strategic Initiatives (Ms Sherman and Dr Covert) and Department of Global Environmental Health Sciences (Dr Lichtveld), School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Correspondence: Mya Sherman, MA, Center for Gulf Coast Environmental Health Research, Leadership & Strategic Initiatives, School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, 1440 Canal St, Ste 2100, #8360, New Orleans, LA 70112 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This study was supported by the Gulf Region Health Outreach Program, which is funded from the Deepwater Horizon Medical Benefits Class Action Settlement approved by the US District Court in New Orleans on January 11, 2013, and became effective on February 12, 2014.
The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.