NCHEC is extremely proud of the many health CHES® and MCHES® who serve as essential personnel in many different sectors across the US. Health Education Specialists have assumed critical roles in the identification, control, and assurance of the needs of individuals and communities. They advocate fiercely for public protection measures, and support many other critical health education and health behavior measures. As our nation continues to move forward in addressing and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of a competent certified health education workforce is as significant and essential as ever before.
Name: David Brangan, MS, CHES®
Job Title: CEO, Health Education Consultants, Inc.
Years’ Experience: 30
Career Sector: Self-Employed/Consulting/Non-profit
NCHEC: What is your current job title and where do you work?
David: I am CEO of Health Education Consultants, Inc., a non-profit organization in the state South Carolina.
NCHEC: What type of work does your organization provide?
David: We provide health education assessments and interventions for patients attending South Carolina's Free Medical Clinics, with an emphasis on chronic disease prevention (diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol education, and smoking cessation). Our patient education consists of nutrition, exercise, and proper medication taking. All patient education is documented in the patient's medical record with personal health goals and a follow-up visit scheduled.
NCHEC: How has your role changed because of COVID-19?
David: With the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, health education shifted largely from chronic disease prevention and education to COVID-19 prevention and education. Our new responsibilities included screening patients before entry into the clinic area for symptoms of COVID-19, if they traveled to and returned from a country with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, and if they (the patients) had been around anyone with COVID-19 including family members and friends. All patients had their temperatures taken before entering the clinic area. Patients were given locations for COVID-19 testing and vaccine sites. Some of the patients were given appointments for the vaccine via laptop computer and the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS).
NCHEC: Give an example of how your organization is providing patient education & support to communities and families.
David: Patients testing positive to COVID-19 were given nutrition education to help boost their immune system. Using the latest research online, three-day meal plans were developed with an emphasis on high protein foods, fruits, and vegetables. Patients with COVID-19 and those at risk were given additional education and counseling regarding social distancing, hand washing, precautionary measures to stop the spread of the virus such as proper face protection, and ways the virus can be transmitted such as airborne or touching others. Finally, Health Education Consultants Inc. published weekly updates on their Facebook page, which included the number of new infections per week, number of tests completed, deaths, ICU bed utilization, and percent positive from testing. Additional advice including education handouts were published on the Facebook page regarding social distancing, covering the mouth when sneezing, and the proper use of the mask.
NCHEC: Have you experienced increased recognition of the role of the health education specialist since the onset of COVID-19?
David: Definitely. The health education specialist has direct contact and communication with the patients attending clinics, which puts the health educator in a unique and valuable position. The health education specialist has the skills to assess and deliver patient education tailored to the degree of understanding, cultural background, and literacy level. In a way, the health education specialist can be the key point person within a clinic area for COVID-19 prevention and education.
NCHEC: What advice do you have for newly certified health education specialists ready to enter the current workforce?
David: My advice to health education specialists entering a clinical setting is this: be sure to do a though Health Education Assessment before beginning each session. This includes:
(1) Document all work in the patient's medical record
(2) Follow up with an evaluation plan
(3) Be proactive with the patients
(4) Stay current with new health priorities and medical developments i. e. new vaccines and new strains of the Covid-19 virus
(5) Be flexible with the delivery of patient education, changing public health priorities, new public health developments, and an ever-changing patient population
We can be found on Facebook under Health Education Consultants Inc and email address: Healthedconsults@aol.com.