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Bringing Health Care to the Uninsured - PIMS

PIMS - Grantee Success Stories
Grant Program: Bilingual/Bicultural Demonstration Program FY 07
Project: Bringing Health Care to the Uninsured
Organization: Hispanic Health Initiatives, Inc.
Location: Orange County, Florida
Project Began: September 2007

Bringing Health Care to the Uninsured

March 4, 2009
Casselberry, Florida

Determined to overcome barriers to health care access, Hispanic Health Initiatives, Inc (HHI) developed a cost effective campaign of community health outreach, education, and referral to medical services, engaging community members themselves in an aggressive "Take it to the Community" approach.

From inception, HHI recruited community leaders, interested medical providers and others in the community to develop better pathways to health care for the Hispanic community of Orange County, Fla.. With their help and HHI's trained promotoras (peer health educators), cancer and diabetes/obesity campaigns successfully linked the Hispanic community with free or low-cost screening to detect problems early and provide treatment.

HHI's Los Amigos (that is, "Friends" or "Buddies") diabetes/obesity program and its "My Health in My Hands" program provided an opportunity for those not reached by the health care system to learn how to prevent or control diseases themselves. Through health fairs, community forums, classes, and the local news media, members of the community learned about diabetes and cancer risk factors: Who is at high risk? What are the most common symptoms? Where are health centers located? How can they prevent and control these maladies responsibly, and in a timely manner?

HHI's community-based programs are more meaningful to participants because, from inception, they were designed with community input. The programs have been developed with an understanding of Hispanic culture, and they are delivered in Spanish by trusted promotoras and lay volunteers who mirror the community they serve. Also, programs are presented on days and at times and places convenient to the community. All this promotes a higher level of participation by the community. In essence, community members buy in to the programs and to the necessity of changing their behavior.

For example, many diabetics taking part in the program had for some time tried to control their blood sugar on their own, but without success. After participating in HHI's diabetes classes, they are controlling their glucose for the first time and are amazed at the other results as well. These participants are primarily low-income people, uninsured and under-insured, and they are extremely grateful to the folks involved with HHI for "walking" with them to success. HHI has received many personal testimonials expressing participants' thanks for their gratifying experiences.

For example, a mother informed one of HHI's promotoras that "Me siento requetebien" ("I feel so great") since she started practicing what she learned in the class. Her son, too, exclaimed how pleased he was with his success at losing weight. He had increased his fruit and vegetable intake and was paying greater attention to his food portions.

Similar testimony comes to mind: "My doctor was amazed how well I did in bringing my sugar level down. When he saw my weight loss and sugar results that day he said, 'Wow! What did you do?' It was all due to what I learned in the class. I have lost weight, and I am still losing weight, something, I could not do before. Thank you!" This lady attended two more classes, and each time she brought someone new with her.

Story Prepared By:
Josephine Mercado
Milagros Cooper
Leslie Ann Rodriguez
Fanny Ballester
Promotoras De Salud (Peer Health Educators)

For More Information Contact:
Josephine Mercado, Founder/Executive Director
P.O. Box 1925
Casselberry, FL 32718-1925
Tel. (407) 339-2001
Fax. (407) 339-1700

Content Last Modified: 9/19/2011 4:23:00 PM
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