This year commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Indian Health Service Community Health Representatives Program. This milestone celebrated the tremendous strides Community Health Representatives have made in bridging the cultural, language, and systems gaps between native people and health resources since 1968.
Community Health Representatives are frontline public health workers who are trusted members of the community with a close understanding of the community, language, and traditions. They are well-trained health care workers that connect tribal members to their local health care system and assist by increasing the health knowledge of patients and communities through education, transportation to health visits, outreach, community education, informal counseling, social support, and advocacy to prevent avoidable hospital readmissions and emergency department visits.
Today, more than 95 percent of the Community Health Representatives Program is directly operated by tribes through Title I contracts and Title V compacts authorized by the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, serving as the largest tribally contracted and compacted program. There are more than 1,600 Community Health Representatives in total, representing over 250 tribes across the U.S.
The goal of the Community Health Representatives Program is to provide quality health care services to American Indians and Alaska Natives within their communities through the use of well-trained, paraprofessional health care workers. Community Health Representatives are a critical part of the Indian health system and are essential to providing services to our remote and rural communities.
Fifty years later, Community Health Representatives continue advocating and providing social, spiritual, and physical support to the communities they serve and deserve to be acknowledged for their extraordinary contributions. For the month of December, follow IHS on Facebook and Twitter as Community Health Representatives are highlighted for their work and contributions to Indian country.
- Tradition of Gratitude Poster: Standing Tall for 50 Years: Honoring Community Health Representatives
- IHS CHR Fact Sheet
- IHS CHR Manual