Community Health Worker Training Program (Northeast Oregon Network)

NCHN Member
Aug 18, 2014 11:52 AM
Lisa Ladendorff
Lisa Ladendorff is Executive Director of Northeast Oregon Network

Community Health Worker Training Program (Northeast Oregon Network)

Program Description

In 2012, the State of Oregon established Traditional Health Worker certification legislation the created a scope of work, competencies and certification pathway for Community Health Workers, Peer Mentors, Doulas, Promaturas and other traditional health worker roles. The legislation also established a pathway for community based entities to become state approved training programs. The Northeast Oregon Network was the second certified training program in the State of Oregon, and the only one to focus specifically on the training of rural and frontier individuals. Upon completion of the NEON 80 hour training program, which utilizes popular education methods to train individuals in the Community Health Worker history, role, scope and skills, an individual is eligible for certification in the state of Oregon. NEON also runs an ongoing Community of Practice for all individuals completing the training program, and their employing organization. The intent of the Community of Practice is to continue to provide support to newly trained CHWs, to assist organizations in integrating this new workforce into their already existing work flows, provide ongoing training, and create a grassroots advocacy movement for health system transformation in rural areas.

Resources Used

The NEON Community Health Worker Training Program was created with resources from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Small Community Transformation Grant, and with the support of the PacificSource Foundation in Oregon. NEON worked with Portland, Oregon area consultants, the Multnomah County Community Capacitation Center, on licensing their training curriculum and training NEON's trainers. NEON has one full time staff person dedicated to coordinating the program and serving as the lead trainer, with two other NEON staff providing teaching expertise during training sessions. NEON also has staff support dedicated to supporting the virtual community of practice website, and in staffing community of practice meetings and ongoing trainings. Eastern Oregon University, a local regional State University, has provided free classroom space and the opportunity for students to take the CHW training series for college credit. Local content expert professionals volunteer time to provide segments of training on areas in their content expertise.


NEON started the training program development by an in depth review of the enabling legislation and corresponding Administrative Rules in order to understand in depth the certification requirements. The NEON Training Program Coordinator was also appointed to the State Traditional Health Worker Commission, which placed NEON in the position of shaping policy as it was developed and assisted us in developing an in depth understanding of the new requirements. Our next step was to contract with the Community Capacitation Center to revise and adapt their curriculum to a frontier setting, and to complete an initial training that trained and certified NEON staff as approved trainers for the curriculum.

NEON staff spent a great deal of time educating the local partners on the new Community Health Worker workforce, creating an understanding of how this new role could fit into early childhood education, primary care clinic, behavioral health and social service settings. We focused on recruiting and training already employed staff in partner organizations, with the intent of retraining and retooling the existing workforce, so that they would be well positioned to receive reimbursement from insurance payers for CHW services, once payers had determined how to do so. Although the training was provided at no tuition cost, the employing organizations were asked to give staff paid release time to attend the training, and the trainee and the organization had to sign an agreement agreeing to basic data collection for two years post training, and agree to participation in the Community of Practice, in order to access the training.

The Community of Practice involves two components; a virtual community supported through a basecamp software set up, and in person quarterly meetings and trainings. One individuals complete the CHW training, they are registered in the base camp community, and invited to all quarterly meetings and trainings. NEON staff is also available to work with each employing organization and CHW in focused integration of the CHW into the partner's work flow processes.

Currently the program is focused on creating ongoing sustainability, though marketing of the training program in the surrounding areas and states. NEON focuses specifically on rural and frontier training, and hopes to develop a market for providing the training nationally to other rural/frontier areas. NEON is also focusing sustainability on providing consulting services to any sites wanting to develop their own training programs.

Lessons Learned

One of the lessons learned has been that the success of the training program will depend heavily upon the partnerships that already exist with the training agency, and that a significant amount of "selling" organizations on the CHW model is necessary in order for people to support the training program. Ongoing, consistent contact with the partners and employing organizations is a vital part of the success o the programs, as this is not just a training program, but a vital community resource intimately connected to supporting health care transformation activities in our rural area. While some partners will be ready for health care transformation activities, others will be slower to adopt and adjust, mainly due to concerns about long term revenue impact of the model on their bottom line.

It is helpful for community based entities trying to establish a program to connect and partner with an entity that has an already developed curriculum, as the demands of establishing a community based program and the demands of developing a curriculum are probably too large for a rural entity to tackle at the same time. It also helps to navigate approval and licensing processes if the curriculum being used is an already acknowledged curriculum in good standing with program regulators.

NEON has continued to support a Community of Practice, as it is our experience that this element is just as, if not more important than, the actual training in terms of effecting real change in the health and social services environment. People and organizations need to be supported after the training in order to navigate the integration into systems that will need to take place.


To date the NEON program has trained held three training session, with 45 CHWs trained and four certified trainers. 38 of these individuals, or 84%, of those trained are working in a practice setting, and are already impacting the provision of services. These 38 CHWs have served over 500 individuals in the last year alone with over 1,200 episodes of care. NEON is currently working developing a return on investment analysis for an estimate of health care dollars saved and health outcomes improved, and has received a $150,000 foundation grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust to conduct this evaluation. The results of this evaluation will be used to advocate with Medicaid and third party insurance payers to develop a reimbursement mechanism for ongoing support of CHW services. 29 individuals, or 64%, continue to be involved in the Community of Practice one year post training.

More Information

For more information on the program and for questions regarding NEON resources related to this topic, please contact either Lisa Ladendorff, Executive Director at or Pepper McColgan, CHW Training Program Coordinator at


Comments on 'Community Health Worker Training Program (Northeast Oregon Network)':

Rebecca Davis
Sep 14, 2014 06:23 PM
Lisa, thanks so much for sharing the information about NEON Community Health Workers Program! I'm sure that other networks will find your information useful, especially if they are considering implementing such a program. Thanks for all the great work you are doing in Oregon!
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