The ‘promotora’ model helps Spanish-speakers

The mission of Latino Health Access, a nonprofit, community-based organization in Santa Ana, CA, is to promote wellness by making medical information and health care accessible to low-income, Spanish-speaking people.

The organization relies on "promotoras," a Spanish word meaning "women who teach and lead."

"Only by training people in the community affected by those issues could we affect change." says América Bracho, MD, MPH, chief executive officer of Latino Health Access. When working with a patient, she says, the promotora is "expected and trained to be concerned with the entire person, not merely with a disease" such as diabetes or heart disease.

At Latino Health Access, "Promotoras in the chronic disease program teach and administer classes on diabetes management and heart disease," Bracho says. Events take place at the organization and at area public health clinics. They are marketed through public health clinics, Spanish-language radio, and word of mouth.

Promotoras help with glucometer testing, run health fairs, do home visits, and lead support and fitness groups. They take patients shopping and visit with them in hospitals while they await treatment or surgery. They advocate with patients’ families in the schools and in the community.