San Juan Basin Public Health knows that health starts in our families, schools, workplaces, communities, in the air we breathe and the water we drink. All of these things can affect how we feel, and how healthy (or not) we are.
SJBPH’s programs work to build community health resilience by addressing these issues for the clients we serve by making referrals to programs within the agency, or to outside organizations working on these issues. A great example of an impactful program working in this way is SJBPH’s Promotor Program, serving La Plata and Archuleta counties.
The Promotor Program is supported through funding from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Office of Health Equity to address health disparities in underserved populations. Spanish-speaking promotors, (or community health workers and educators), work to reduce chronic disease and improve health outcomes by addressing barriers that clients may experience in accessing health care and other resources that may affect their health and well-being. In particular, this program works with individuals who may experience language as a barrier to care.
Promotors may help with referrals for individuals struggling with issues such as housing, transportation, healthy food access, and mental health issues. Some of the services that the Promotor Program provides are:
Health screeningsPersonalized health coachingHelp with accessing insurance and MedicaidHelp with finding a health care providerHealth education Referrals to a wide range of resourcesTranslation and interpretation supportWith each health screening, Spanish-speaking community members who may have limited access to care are able to learn more about their current health status and in their first language. Given that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 1 in 3 American adults has prediabetes with Hispanics at a greater risk than non-Hispanics, the promotors provide health screenings to help identify clients who might be at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, SJBPH is addressing the need for communitywide understanding about the issue of health equity. Health equity refers to disparities in health or health care that are systemic and avoidable and, therefore, considered unfair or unjust. In order to address some of these health disparities that are higher among minorities, the promotors are sponsoring a Cultural Competency Training for clinical providers to become aware of individual biases and learn how to listen and respond to the needs of their patients who have differing cultures from their own. The Promotor Program is also working with the local healthcare community to identify and address barriers clients may have to accessing medical interpretation services.
Although the Promotor Program focuses on providing services to Spanish-speaking clients, anyone who is considered underserved is welcome. This includes low socioeconomic clients, indigenous populations, LGBT community members, the elderly, people with disabilities and anyone who may experience barriers to achieving their best health.
Often, promotor clients are not connected to the health care system or have experienced barriers or discrimination within that system. Promotors work alongside their clients to understand their unique needs, and to find resources and support that is culturally appropriate.
SJBPH promotors have the ability to serve as connectors and navigators of the health system, which is critical in our work to help everyone achieve their highest potential of health. Additionally, promotors are resources to not only in their communities as connectors to care, but also to policymakers, based on their unique insight into these communities and the potential to create positive change.
For more information about the Promotor Program, contact San Juan Basin Public Health at 247-5702.
Lauren Pope is the assessment, planning and communications specialist at San Juan Basin Public Health.