Community Health Workers Put To The Test In Heart Research

FALLS CITY – Community Medical Center in Falls City and Southeast District Health Department are in the midst of a research project to determine if  modern communication tools can help patients achieve heart health goals.

A nurse at the hospital and community health worker serve as heart health coaches, getting to know a patient and encouraging regular communications on smart phones or e-mail.

Rural Nebraskans experience higher mortality rates from heart disease in comparison to urban Nebraskans, and Kevin Cluskey of the health district said the research will show if community health workers can help change that.

Cluskey: “The community health worker’s role is going to be working with that person one-on-one, either in person or over the phone or by some means of technology – face time or something like that.

“Because one of the barriers to care in a rural setting is travel, so, if we can break down that barrier, we can get better health results.”
Cluskey said technology is proposed to tear down the barrier of travel, but it is not the key to relationship building.

Cluskey: “If we are going to be reaching out to you in text, it’s going to be asking for your availability to talk. Because we do want to speak to you and see how you are doing.”

The University of Nebraska Medical Center is preparing the research for the patient self-management study and Cluskey said he hopes it will show a positive health outcome for community health workers.

Cluskey: “We want to take this and move outside of just Falls City and Richardson County and move into Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee and Johnson counties, as well. We want to make sure all of the clinics and hospitals have the opportunity to receive these benefits and this partnership.”

Southeast District Health Department plans on having three community health workers involved in the study.

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