Community Health Worker ECHO

What is a Community Health Worker? 

What is a Community Health Worker (CHW)? There are many people in and out of the health care field that may not know what the CHW profession actually entails. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) describes a CHW as “lay members of the community who work either for pay or as volunteers in association with the local health care system in both urban and rural environments. CHWs usually share ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, and life experiences with the community members they serve.” They have been identified by many titles, such as community health advisors, lay health advocates, outreach educators, community health representatives, peer health promoters, and peer health educators. CHWs offer interpretation and translation services, provide culturally appropriate health education and information, help people get the care they need, give informal counseling and guidance on health behaviors, advocate for individual and community health needs, and provide some direct services such as helping a patient obtain housing, benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid services, employment and disability, just to name a few. Most importantly, they advocate for the patient. CHWs are frontline agents of change, helping to reduce health disparities in underserved communities. CHWS take a holistic approach to each patient they serve.

Our CHW training

The SIU Community Health Worker ECHO is comprised of comprehensive generalist training followed by four specialty series covering chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and oral care as each pertains to the Community Health Worker and their clients.

Community Health Worker General Training

Participants will learn the Who, What, When and How of being a CHW - A comprehensive overview for new Community Health Workers that covers roles, responsibilities, and skills. The ECHO also offers simulation and role play for safety and observation. Topics in this training also include: 
•    Cultural Competency
•    Assessment and the Social Determinants of Health 
•    Chronic and Complex Care 
•    The Substance Abuse Factor 
•    Mental and Emotional Health
•    Safety and Legal Issues for CHWs 
•    Tying it all Together 
•    Field Knowledge and Experience

For education on more health topics important for CHWs please see our list of specialty topics. 


The CHW ECHOs help build individual and community capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support and advocacy. Our CHW Specialty Series can help CHWs master important topics that will enhance the CHW's ability to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.


•    Discuss your clients’ complex medical conditions with a specialty panel. NO PHI ALLOWED. 
•    Learn and interact with experts right in your office.
•    Discuss timely topics and share community resources. 

 *Participants must attend all sessions to receive a certificate of participation. Training staff is not responsible for any work time missed.  

Community Health Worker specialty topics

Participants will attend sessions that focus on the following topics:
•    Education on Asthma Self-Management
•    X-tinguishing Smoking and Secondhand Smoke
•    Home visits for Triggering Reduction and Asthma Self-Management
•    Achievement of Guidelines-Based Medical Management
•    Linkages and Coordination of Care Across Settings
•    Environmental Policies - Best Practices to Reduce Asthma Triggers

Participants will learn about the different types of diabetes, insulin production in the body, and the causes and effects of diabetes. Diabetes ECHO topics include presentations of the following: 
•    Diabetes Monitoring
•    Diabetes Management
•    Healthy Eating
•    Physical Activity
•    Care Plans and Crucial Conversations

Participant will receive a general overview of hypertension, blood pressure, identifying risk factors, and causes of hypertension. This CHW specialty ECHO provides presentations on the following:
•    Self-management of Blood Pressure
•    Medical Management
•    Food, Diet, and Exercise
•    Care Plans and Crucial Conversations
•    Stress Management

The Community Health Workers Opioid ECHO is coordinated by the Center for Rural Health and Social Service Development at SIU School of Medicine. The purpose of this ECHO program is to enhance community health workers' ability to establish a plan to support clients with opioid use disorder. In addition to community health workers, this ECHO is open to peer recovery support specialists and other professions that will benefit from additional training on opioid use disorder. Topics covered in this ECHO include: 

  • What is opioid use disorder?
  • Harm Reduction
  • Myths about Opioid Use Disorder
  • Opioid Use Disorder and COVID-19
  • Opioid Use Disorder and Pregnancy
  • Virtual Reality and OUD Treatment

Community Health Worker ECHO calendar

CHW ECHO SeriesDateSign Up Information
CHW General Training Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30am - 12:00pmComing Fall 2024
CHW Specialty Series: Opioid Use DisorderTuesdays 10:30am - 12:00pmComing Spring 2025
CHW Specialty Series: HypertensionTuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30am - 12:00pmComing Fall 2024
CHW Specialty Series: DiabetesTuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30am - 12:00pmComing Fall 2024
CHW Specialty Series: AsthmaTuesdays and Thursdays 10:30am - 12:00pmComing Early 2025


Questions? Contact our ECHO team. Once registered, you’ll receive a welcome packet from the SIU ECHO team.

The SIU Forward for Community Health Worker ECHO is funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH).