Residents of rural Kentucky have unusually high levels of certain diseases such as cancer, heart disease, hypertension, asthma, and diabetes. Lifestyle choices, environmental factors, inadequate health insurance and a general lack of understanding of the healthcare system are said to have a negative effect on these diseases.
Kentucky Homeplace http://ruralhealth.med.uky.edu/cerh-homeplace developed by the University of Kentucky’s Center for Excellence in Rural Health http://ruralhealth.med.uky.edu is based in eastern part of the state in a coal mining town of Hazard. The program educates Kentuckians on how to identify risk factors and how to use preventative measures to become healthier.
Today, Homeplace’s geographic service area includes most counties in the eastern part of the state. Residents of these areas are statistically poorer, less educated, and less likely to have medical coverage than residents in other parts of the state.
In addition, the poorer rural population lacks knowledge about services, receives inadequate information on their medical conditions, lack transportation, plus numerous other factors affects their ability to receive the right healthcare at the right time.
Kentucky Homeplace operates with lay health workers with the job title of Community Health Workers (CHW) and are selected from the communities where they live. The CHWs know their community and have sensitivity to the health disparities and special needs of the clients they serve.
In general, CHWs facilitate communication between their clients and primary care physicians, help clients to effectively comply with medical care instructions, and help educate clients to improve their health behaviors.