by Clarissa Hsu, PhD, Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) assistant investigator
I’m excited to be able to use this short video, “The Community Resource Specialist role,” to share what we’ve learned through Learning to Integrate Neighborhoods and Clinical Care (LINCC).
The community resource specialist is a new role that we created through LINCC, which is a collaborative project between GHRI and Group Health Cooperative, with funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). LINCC piloted the role at two Group Health Medical Centers.
Community resource specialists are part of a medical center’s primary care team. They reach out to community resources near the center, such as gyms, community centers, and food banks. The specialists share those resources with clinical staff — and help patients to connect with them. The specialists also help patients to set and realize health goals.
Laurel, a patient at Group Health’s Rainier Medical Center, participated in designing the community resource specialist role. “It’s empowering for patients to work with a community resource specialist, because they’re not fixing something for someone,” she says. “They’re connecting them with things that will empower them to be more active, to connect with other people.” Those kinds of things empower people to lead more engaged lives, and then everyone benefits: the patient, the community, and the health system, with prevention of illness.
Katrice, another patient at Group Health’s Rainier Medical Center, raves about working with Elaina Kook, the community resource specialist there. Ms. Kook kept her motivated and encouraged to lose 25 pounds and become more active: “I’ve tried different outdoor activities that I’ve always wanted to try,” Katrice says. “I’ve learned standup paddle boarding!”
Joyce, a patient at Group Health’s Puyallup Medical Center, enjoys working with Cindee DeWitt, the community resource specialist there. To stave off memory loss, Joyce asked her to explore bridge classes in the neighborhood.
Group Health Physician Daniel Delgado, MD, says having the community resource specialist at Puyallup Medical Center “allows us to bring ‘the village’ into the clinic — and leverage that village to make the patient much more likely to succeed in their own treatment plan.”
Focus groups and surveys have shown that patients are very satisfied and say that the community resource specialists support their behavior change. Patients connect the help they received to their improved health and well-being.
These positive results are “pushing us to think about how we might integrate this into the current primary care model,” says Barbara Trehearne, PhD, RN, Group Health’s vice president of clinical excellence and integration.
Big thanks to everyone mentioned above — and many others at GHRI and Group Health — for appearing in the video and making it happen.
Learn more about Group Health Research Institute.