Today the Penn Center for Community Health Workers (CHWs) has a staff of 40 employees that are fully supported by the Penn Medicine Health System. Most employees are CHWs and collectively they provide support to 1,500 vulnerable, high-risk patients in West and Southwest Philadelphia.
But five years ago the Center was just an idea. It began as a collaboration between the Philadelphia community and Penn Medicine researchers. Tamala Carter, one of the founding employees, said, “I almost didn’t apply for the job (of Community Based Interviewer), because it said ‘research’…I thought they would want me to have other technical skills, but they actually wanted my life experience and natural ability as a listener.”