Promotoras de Salud: A Health Literacy Approach to Improving Immigrant Access to Health Care
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Newcomers to the United States undergo many changes in habits and customs when they arrive that make them more vulnerable to different problems such as obesity, diabetes, STD/HIV, medication errors, and a host of other health issues. ?Promotoras de Salud? (Community Health Workers) is a program being piloted in Columbia, Missouri by the Centro Latino as a way of improving the health outcomes of new immigrants to the community. It is a social intervention model that promotes health literacy based on the development of partnerships between providers of health care services and community members. The program serves a bridge between the providers of health care services and the targeted Latino community. The Promotoras de Salud program primarily serves Latino working class, low-income immigrants from Mexico and Central America. They are bilingual, trusted members of the target community with access to those who need the services. They work through Centro Latino, a trusted resource in the Latino community, and collaborate with a range of health care providers and community educators to develop health literacy resources, provide a framework for accessing resources, and linking to health services. This best practices presentation will focus on lessons learned after 18 months with an emphasis on the effectiveness of the three main components of the Promotoras de Salud project: 1. Development of Resources and Training, 2. Creation of linkages to community resources, and 3. Development of a support system that facilitates interaction among newcomers and the health care services available in the community. Resources and training are being developed around 10 program areas: Health Literacy & Medical Interpreting, HIV Education and Prevention, Healthy Lifestyles and Obesity Prevention, Family Planning, Diabetes Testing and Education, Medline Plus, Latino Link, Parent Link, Social Work & Mental Health, and Public Speaking and Outreach Planning.