Developing a Model with Stakeholders to Improve Hearing and Vision Care in the Community

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S+S, Fall 2023

The Eye & Ear Foundation recently received a grant from the Eden Hall Foundation to fund a training program for hearing and vision care for community health workers.

A Community Health Care Worker (CHW) is a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member or has a particularly good understanding of the community served. A CHW serves as a liaison between health and social services and the community to facilitate access to services and to improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.

A joint effort between the Departments of Otolaryngology and Ophthalmology, this training program will be led by Dr. Catherine V. Palmer, PhD, and Dr. Evan “Jake” Waxman, MD, PhD. Dr. Palmer is Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Communication Science and Disorders, Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, and Director of UPMC Audiology. Dr. Waxman is Professor of Ophthalmology, Vice Chair, Medical & Resident Education, Director, UPMC Eye Center Mercy, and Director, Comprehensive Eye Service.

“In our goal to improve access to hearing and vision care, we are partnering with Community Health Care workers to discover how we can support them in helping community members get the care they need,” Dr. Palmer said. “Guidance from a trusted Community Health Care worker can ensure that an individual gets the care they need that supports their ability to thrive in their community. This work will result in Community Health Worker training in hearing and vision that is co-created by CHWs and hearing and vision experts that can be used across the country.”

The three-year program will consist of an initial stakeholder study to identify best practices and resources, the development and implementation of a training program in the Pittsburgh community, and finally, the wide-spread dissemination of the training program to community health workers, medical centers, and organizations nationwide.