The Columbia Center for Community Health Enters a New Era of Public Health and Advocacy

The Center trains community health workers and provides surrounding communities with preventive measures to improve their health.

Columbia Neighbors
June 21, 2024

The Columbia Center for Community Health (CCCH), located in Columbia’s Zuckerman Institute on the Manhattanville campus, is embarking on a new chapter.

Formerly known as the Columbia Wellness Center, the CCCH underwent a transformation in 2023, adopting a new name that reflects its expanded mission. This change highlights the CCCH’s commitment to certifying and training community health workers (CHWs) and positively impacting the health of the Uptown community. Through community capacity building and health promotion, the CCCH is dedicated to supporting and empowering the local community.

Leading the CCCH are co-directors Dr. Olajide Williams, a distinguished neurologist, and Dr. Robert Fullilove, a public health expert, both renowned for their pioneering approaches to improving public health in Harlem and Washington Heights. Under their leadership, the training and certification of CHWs has become central to the CCCH’s mission, reflecting the critical role these frontline workers play in healthcare.

A Training Site for Community Health Workers 

CHWs are frontline public health workers who typically reside in the neighborhoods they serve and have the unique ability to bring information where it is needed most, as described by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Trainings at The Institute for Training Outreach and Community Health.

The Institute for Training Outreach and Community Health (InTOuCH)—currently under the leadership of Dr. Janhavi Mallaiah alongside Mariama Kora, Ulda Louis-Pierre, and Mary Redd—is CCCH’s premiere training program, providing free training and certification for those interested in becoming CHWs. 

The eight-week training is taught by Columbia faculty and staff and includes six weeks of coursework and two weeks of hands-on practicum training. To date, InTOuCH has successfully trained and certified 252 CHWs who are trusted advocates for their communities.

A New Focus and an Emphasis on Local Ties

Alongside its renaming, the CCCH adopted a new focus on five key areas: training, outreach, research, screening, and workforce development.

Focus areas of the CCCH.

By investing in these key areas, the CCCH will nurture its InTOuCH program, increase its delivery of community health screenings, and create more opportunities for locally relevant research initiatives.

This effort includes deepening CCCH’s ties with local faith and community-based organizations, as well as increasing its outreach to marginalized groups such as formerly incarcerated individuals. Currently, the CCCH is partnered with 72 churches Uptown and across the city, such as The Abyssinian Baptist Church, Convent Avenue Baptist Church, First Corinthian Baptist Church, and Victory Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In 2022, InTOuCH partnered with Vocational Instruction Project (VIP) Community Services to provide free CHW training to their staff and clients. The CCCH will continue to work closely with VIP Community Services, a Federally Qualified Health Center and Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic offering a continuum of services such as primary care, housing, and medication assisted treatment.

Reflecting on this new chapter, Dr. Janhavi Mallaiah emphasized the significance of community partnership.  "We are proud to announce a new focus and mission for the Columbia Center for Community Health,” said Dr. Mallaiah. “We look forward to building capacity, deepening our impact, and forging new connections with the community.”

Interested in becoming a CHW through Columbia’s InTOuCH program? Learn more at the Center for Community Health’s website.

On July 21, CCCH is hosting a fun and interactive health event to provide education on cardiovascular disease, identify risks, and provide free resources and tools to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Health screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol levels, and more will be available for the whole family. Learn more and RSVP for the event here.

Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date:

* indicates required