Hospital System Utilizes Promotoras to Improve Latino Health


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Latinos are one of the fastest growing populations in the country. They are expected to grow from 1 in 6 people today to 1 in 4 by 2035 and 1 in 3 by 2060. Latinos often face many barriers that keep them from attaining the best healthcare possible.

In realizing the disparities that exist for Latinos, unique strategies have often been employed to try to overcome these hurdles. One of the main strategies is employing promotoras de salud. These layperson community health workers are able to build trust in the community and connect hard-to-reach Latinos to health and social resources.

In the city of Arlington Heights, IL (5.6% Latino population), their growing Latino population now have new advocates for them. Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) has hired five promotoras to go into the community and spread information on diabetes, heart disease, and breast-feeding.

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“It could be that people don’t know how to fill out forms at the doctor, or they don’t have a doctor so they wait until something bad happens and they wind up in the emergency room,” said Ana Flores, a former patient at NCH and now a promotora, in an interview with The Daily Herald. “Or they don’t have insurance or they don’t have money to pay for the medication they need. Or they don’t understand that their condition is something they need to take care of forever – it won’t just go away.”

NCH’s promotoras program provided health education to over 350 people in 2016; 75% of the families they served had annual income of less than $25,000. More than half of these families were also uninsured.

The promotoras also made 1,300 visits to 468 Latino mothers who delivered babies at Northwest Community Hospital, officials said. The program is funded by the health care organization and by United Way.

“As a Latina, you have come from another country and you know the feeling of being alone,” Flores said. “It’s a really good feeling to make a difference for families and change someone’s life.”

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