Connecticut Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program
Established in 1995, the Connecticut AHEC Program is based at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and implemented through four regional centers in the Willimantic, Hartford, Waterbury, and Bridgeport areas, covering the entire state. The network of regional centers works throughout Connecticut to improve access to basic healthcare by linking local community groups with the resources of UConn Health and other health-professions training programs. CT AHEC also works to implement healthcare reform by promoting community health workers (CHWs) and helping develop the state’s CHW workforce.
Substantial evidence confirms that intervention models involving CHWs produce improved health outcomes. Rooted in the communities they serve, CHWs possess a unique understanding of how those communities function and how the local resources, environment, and culture affect health. This enables them to complement clinical healthcare teams by providing a broad range of services that facilitate access to healthcare, improve care quality, and address social determinants of health.
The CT AHEC Program has been involved with CHWs since 2000, when it conducted the first statewide survey of Connecticut’s CHWs and their employers. Since then, CT AHEC, with Southwestern AHEC as the lead, has worked with numerous partners to promote, train, and develop the CHW workforce. These efforts at healthcare transformation received a significant boost when CT AHEC was selected in 2014 to lead the CHW component of Connecticut’s State Innovation Model (SIM) Test Grant.