WNMU Partners With HMS To Formally Train Community Health Workers

Western New Mexico University Community Health Worker Program Director Benjamin Jenkins, Ph.D., (pictured far left) celebrates the first cohort to graduate from the program. All Hidalgo Medical Services employees, pictured left to right are Donna Sandoval, Yvonne Gomez, instructor Edith Lee, Sabrina Madrid and Louann Velasquez.

© Western New Mexico University

After hearing that Western New Mexico University would offer a community health worker program, Hidalgo Medical Services requested that the training also be offered in Silver City so that HMS employees could participate. In response, WNMU offered an additional section of its brand-new program in fall 2018.

“Though HMS has employed community health workers for several years, we felt it was important to support their continued education. Education is one of HMS’ core values, and we know that the knowledge gained in this program will benefit our patients and the community,” said Dan Otero, CEO at Hidalgo Medical Services.

WNMU is the only university in southwest New Mexico providing this training.

“Hidalgo Medical Service’s request demonstrates the demand for community health workers in southwest New Mexico and underscores the need for formal training of people already doing this type of work,” said Benjamin Jenkins, Ph.D., director of the community health worker program in the WNMU School of Nursing & Allied Health.

For decades, New Mexicans have been seeing promotores for basic health education and for help finding resources. While promotores have traditionally informally educated communities about common health issues, the State is now formalizing their roles and encouraging people to get trained in serving as liaisons between families and health professionals or social service organizations.

“Our program allows promotores to earn a state-issued certificate and apply their life experiences in the workforce, lifting up their neighborhoods along the way,” Jenkins said.

“We found the program curriculum aligned well with our emphasis on quality here at HMS. Some of the topics covered included promoting health equity, practicing cultural humility, client-centered coaching to support behavior change, ethics and boundaries, professional skills, and care management,” said Edith Lee, LMSW, Chief Support Officer at Hidalgo Medical Services.

Now that they’ve completed the program, these HMS team members are able to go to their patients and help them where they are to overcome common health issues like diabetes, addiction and obesity.

“We at WNMU are happy to be filling our community with trained and certified community health workers who can promote better health behaviors in the most medically underserved region of New Mexico,” Jenkins said.

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