In this paper we discuss the importance of the efforts of community health representatives to improve general health on the Navajo reservation and describe the need for new efforts focused on preparing CHRs to act as catalysts for helping improve the oral health in their communities.
Community health representatives extend health care beyond traditional clinic walls. They represent the “eyes, ears, hands, and feet” of the health care delivery system providing continuity of care to many individuals because health care practitioners are often limited, we believe, by their inability to assess and address the needs of their patients outside of the traditional clinic or hospital setting. Community health representatives offer health promotion and disease prevention information and services to many who may be challenged by poverty, transportation, compromising chronic diseases, or an inability to fully comprehend what actions their health care providers are recommending for them.
In our opinion, this multifactorial approach of educating community health representatives about oral health and improving the oral health literacy of those who would be interacting with and within the community is still a work in progress.