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Traditional health workers 

Welcome to the traditional health worker (THW) resources page for CareOregon providers. A traditional health worker is a person who has similar life experiences with the people they work with. They can assist members in getting services and care that support their health and wellbeing by helping with things like:

  • Navigating the health system.
  • Understanding benefits.
  • Connecting to community resources.
  • Cross-cultural communication.
  • Connecting to health care providers.

There are five types of THWs licensed in Oregon:

  • Doulas are trained birth companions. They provide support to pregnant people and families during pregnancy, birth and beyond.
  • Peer support specialists give support services to people who are or have been in mental health or substance use treatment.
  • Peer wellness specialists have personal experience with psychiatric conditions plus intensive training. They’re part of a home health team that combines mental health with primary care.
  • Personal health navigators provide tools to help patients make the best health care choices.
  • Community health workers are public health workers who are trusted members of a community and have a close understanding of it.

THWs can be found in community-based organizations and in primary care and behavioral health clinics. They are a free benefit to members and do not require a referral or prior authorization from CareOregon. However, organizations with THWs may have their own referral requirements to access care. Not all THWs are contracted with CareOregon or provide services to Medicaid Members. To learn more about your THW network and access for CareOregon members you serve, contact your regional THW Liaison listed below.

The OHA Office of Equity and Inclusion has identified Best and Promising Practices & Other Resources for THWs. This information is available on the OHA-OEI THW website:
Traditional-Health-Worker-Toolkit-2019-Final.pdf (

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