Certification for community health workers opens doors for culturally competent care in Kansas

This year, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced a new certification for these health workers, the first in the state to recognize the role they play in linking communities to health and social services.

By

State News

June 21, 2022 - 2:29 PM

Ton Miras Neira, far left, said community health workers provide competent and financially beneficial care, often ensuring treatments are successful where they otherwise might fall short. (Submitted) Courtesy photo

TOPEKA — As a deaf-blind interpreter in Spain, Ton Miras Neira found a need for more health workers focused on empowering and understanding underrepresented communities.

So when Neira came to the United States in 2012, he began a career as a community health worker — frontline public health workers who are either trusted community members or have an unusually close understanding of those they serve. Miras embedded himself within hospitals, working in the emergency room, but he would also spend time with patients in their homes, building a rapport and developing more competent care plans.

Neira, who works as a community health worker project manager at the University of Kansas Medical Center, said this can ensure treatments are successful where they otherwise might fall short.

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