What's the problem?
Access to healthcare in the United States has traditionally
associated geographic proximity with a community’s ability to
access such care. However, irrespective of the quantity of hospitals
serving a particular area, low-resource and immigrant communities
not previously exposed to Western medicine are often hesitant
to turn towards these providers. In particular, countries outside
of the U.S. (e.g. Rwanda, Bangladesh, China) have mobilized community
health workers (CHWs) through grassroots efforts to increase
healthcare access in underserved communities.
From a domestic perspective, while access to healthcare in the United States is driven by various actors across the larger healthcare ecosystem, community-based solutions that reflect culturally competent care are critical in bridging the access gap among minority groups. In Pennsylvania, disparities in health and healthcare access exist across ethnic lines in which low-resource community residents report having no usual source of care at a rate higher than the U.S. National average.
The American Public Health Association defines a CHW as “a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served.” In particular, CHWs are selected by local organizations to provide basic medical treatments and services to their nearby communities through a direct grassroots approach.
Ultimately, as opposed to building more direct hospital infrastructure, how might we foster more accessible healthcare within community-specific, culturally-influenced, low-resource, immigrant groups in the greater Philadelphia area?