The Regional Engagement to Advance Community Health (REACH) Partnership, begun as the former Community Health Worker (CHW) Project, will expand resources and services to more wholly address health disparities in the Dan River Region, thanks to a $6.3 million grant award from the Danville Regional Foundation.
“The name change from the Community Health Worker Project to REACH is intentional,” said Dr. Julie Brown, a leader of REACH and Director of Advanced Learning at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR). “REACH is a strategic effort to bring disparate and siloed providers together, creating a system of care that drives positive population health outcomes at a reduced cost, improving the quality of life for everyone.”
The REACH Partnership represents the next iteration of the CHW Project, which was originally designed (in cooperation with The Health Collaborative) to improve health outcomes for residents at the highest risk for chronic disease, increase the number of individuals who seek appropriate healthcare services, and create a career pathway for healthcare workers.
REACH will continue this work and will expand it to address the systematic barriers preventing positive health outcomes and create a system of care that provides equitable access to all residents in the region. REACH also provides holistic support through the clinical Community Paramedic role and the non-clinical CHWs, who work to address the social determinants of health.
REACH’s expanded, systems-based approach will include nine partners, an increase from the original four of the CHW Project. IALR will serve as administrator and fiscal agent, joined by Piedmont Access to Community Health Services, Gateway Health, Sovah Health-Danville, Compassion Healthcare, the Danville Life Saving Crew (DLSC), Pittsylvania County EMS, Caswell County EMS, Danville Pittsylvania Community Services and Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority.
Some of the steps to be taken among partners will include data integration, alignment of resources and coordinated communication. The project will also add nine new positions, including five new Community Health Workers, three new Community Paramedics (CP) and a Program Assistant. These new positions will work with the current CHWs, Care Coordinators, CPs (initiated by DLSC), Project Manager, and IALR and REACH organizational leadership. The REACH Partnership has also aligned with workforce development efforts, including the state certification of the Community Health Worker position by the CHW Project team, ample training options and career pathway progression opportunities.
The success of the CHW Project is expected to continue with REACH. Since the CHW Project began working with citizens in 2017, it has served over 1,040 clients with 674 graduates, connecting 38 percent with a primary care physician and 76 percent with a specialty doctor. Sovah Health-Danville emergency department (ED) visits by superusers (those using the ED more than five times in 12 months) dropped by 59 percent after enrollment in the CHW program. The CHW Project also was instrumental in the City of Danville’s All-America City Award win in 2020. Plus, the CHW effort won awards from Health Quality Innovators for creating rural health solutions, as well as the THRIVE Award from The Health Collaborative.