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About Traditional Health Workers

Traditional Health Workers (THWs) are trusted individuals from their local communities who may also share socioeconomic ties and lived life experiences with health plan members. THWs have historically provided person and community‐centered care by bridging communities and the health systems that serve them, increasing the appropriate use of care by connecting people with health systems, advocating for health plan members, supporting adherence to care and treatment, and empowering individuals to be agents in improving their own health.

For Oregon rules on Traditional Health workers, read rules here.

CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW to learn more about the five Traditional Health Worker types and specific details regarding certification for each one.

Traditional Health Worker Types:

Community Health Worker (CHW): An individual who meets qualification criteria adopted by the authority under ORS 414.665 and who: (a) Has expertise or experience in public health; (b) Works in an urban or rural community, either for pay or as a volunteer in association with a local health care system; (c) To the extent practicable, shares ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status and life experiences with the residents of the community where the worker serves; (d) Assists members of the community to improve their health and increases the capacity of the community to meet the health care needs of its residents and achieve wellness; (e) Provides health education and information that is culturally appropriate to the individuals being served; (f) Assists community residents in receiving the care they need; (g) May give peer counseling and guidance on health behaviors; and (h) May provide direct services such as first aid or blood pressure screening.

Peer Support Specialist (PSS): An individual providing services to another individual who shares a similar life experience with the peer support specialist (addiction to addiction, mental health condition to mental health condition, family member of an individual with a mental health condition to family member of an individual with a mental health condition). A peer support specialist shall be: (a) A self-identified individual currently or formerly receiving addictions or mental health services; (b) A self-identified individual in recovery from an addiction disorder who meets the abstinence requirements for recovering staff in alcohol or other drug treatment programs; (c) A self-identified individual in recovery from problem gambling. There are four categories of Peer Support Specialists:

  • Family Support Specialist: an individual who meets qualification criteria adopted under ORS 414.665 and may be either a peer support specialist or a peer wellness specialist who, based on similar life experiences, provides support services to and has experience parenting a child who:(a) Is a current or former consumer of mental health or addiction treatment; or (b) Is facing or has faced difficulties in accessing education, health, and wellness services due to mental health or behavioral health barriers.
  • Youth Support Specialist: means an individual who meets qualification criteria adopted under ORS 414.665 and may be either a peer support specialist or a peer wellness specialist and who, based on a similar life experience, provides supportive services to an individual who: (a) Is not older than 30 years old, and (b) Is a current or former consumer of mental health or addiction treatment; or (c) Is facing or has faced difficulties in accessing education, health, and wellness services due to mental health or behavioral health barriers.
  • Recovery Peer: A person in addiction recovery with two years abstinence who provides support services to people seeking recovery from addiction.
  • Mental Health Peer: A person with lived experience of mental health who provides support services to other people with similar experiences.

Peer Wellness Specialist (PWS):  An individual who meets qualification criteria adopted by the authority under ORS 414.665 and who, through community outreach, is responsible for (a) assessing mental health and substance use disorder service and support needs of a member of a coordinated care organization, (b) assisting members with access to available services and resources, (c) addressing barriers to services and providing education and information about available resources for individuals with mental health or substance use disorders in order to reduce stigma and discrimination toward consumers of mental health and substance use disorder services, (d)and assisting members in creating and maintaining recovery, health and wellness.

Personal Health Navigator (PHN): An individual who meets qualification criteria adopted by the authority under ORS 414.665 and who provides information, assistance, tools and support to enable a patient to make the best health care decisions in the patient's particular circumstances and in light of the patient's needs, lifestyle, combination of conditions and desired outcomes.

Birth Doula: A birth companion who provides personal, nonmedical support to women and families throughout a woman's (or person's) pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum experience.

THW Core Competencies


 

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