The UT AHEC Program Office has engaged CHWs to teach UT AHEC Scholars and practicing clinicians culturally sensitive, high quality telehealth care for members of underserved urban and rural communities. Minority populations in Utah faced disparities in access to care prior to the pandemic, and are now even more severely disadvantaged due to lack of access to telehealth services. While the use of telehealth appears to be one answer to the challenges of quarantine, social distance, disinfection and hygiene, it must be done in ways that take into account the populations most affected, their technological and cultural barriers, as well as their excess incidence of infection. CHWs are uniquely suited to bridge the gap between services and need for care for diverse groups.

Coming from the communities, they serve, and bringing deep understanding both of the cultural needs affecting health in these communities, CHWs can help people access care, while also helping caregivers provide culturally competent health services with humility and respect. Telehealth services, in particular, raise special challenges for members of minority communities in trust, communication, and understanding, and challenges for health professionals to know how best to use telehealth in ways that are culturally appropriate and effective. CHWs can address this challenge by teaching health professions students and clinicians to work effectively with underserved patients of varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds.