5 Duties of a Comunity Health Organizer

Community health organizers’ roles vary depending upon the unique communities they are assigned to serve. Their duties can vary depending upon whether they work in a social services-based organization or a health care organization. No matter which type of organization they work for, or whether the community they serve is rural, urban, or suburban, community health organizers share some duties. Here are five primary duties of a community health organizer.

Creating Connections Between The Community And Healthcare Systems

Many members of vulnerable or isolated communities lack a strong connection to healthcare services. A health clinic may even be nearby, but community members may not visit the clinic for a variety of reasons. Members of some communities, such as undocumented workers, may fear deportation risk if they go to the clinic. Other communities, such as very low-income parents, may believe they can’t afford medical care or services. Community health organizers are responsible to build connections and trust between the community members who need the services, and the health care organizations that want to serve them.

Providing Culturally Responsive And Appropriate Health Education

Some of the most promising results from community health organizing are better health outcomes in at-risk communities. Health organizers who are well-versed in cultural beliefs and behaviors, as well as health facts and best practices, can blend the two and create beneficial programs which help communities address serious and chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease. Health organizers have designed excellent culturally-appropriate programs to fight obesity, increase physical activity, and improve disease management in communities as diverse as inner-city neighborhoods and rural indigenous communities.

Advocating For Underserved People

People who live in isolated, underserved, or vulnerable communities often do not receive the health care they need. Many health care professionals lack experience and knowledge in communicating treatment plans and care options to diverse populations. Health organizers and educators have a duty to assist underserved people to receive the health care that they need. Advocacy can involve meeting with family members, health care professionals, and community members to ensure that necessary care is provided. Advocates can also help patients to understand their diagnosis and take appropriate health actions.

Collecting Data And Supporting Policy Changes

Community health organizers are often the first line of information for policymakers in health care and government organizations. Data collection is a critical responsibility of health organizers in at-risk and vulnerable communities. They must be well-versed in culturally appropriate data collection techniques, and also be willing to inform anyone they work with of their rights regarding their personal health data. Keeping health information confidential while obeying all rules of ethical data collection and analysis is a challenge, but it is one of the most important duties of community health organizers and advocates.

Clinical and Direct Services

Community health organizers have been enlisted by health care organizations and government agencies to provide services to populations who have traditionally been cut off from the overall health care system. They may provide direct services, such as ensuring that tuberculosis patients take daily medication, or monitoring vital signs in patients. Partners in Health reports that community health organizers providing direct clinical services have helped to improve survival rates for chronic, serious diseases like HIV/AIDS.

A community health organizer can make a real difference in the lives of people living in remote areas, and those affected by poverty and cultural isolation. The important duties of health organizers include culturally-appropriate education and advocacy, direct health services, and helping to collect and disseminate data on health care needs and best practices.

See also: 5 Great Career Options With a Master’s in Public Health