The Parish Health Promoters program of Catholic Charities in Portland, Oregon, is helping Latino immigrants get the medical care and health information they need. Promotores, volunteer health promoters and local healthcare providers are working together to improve access to health care and increase the cultural competency of healthcare workers.
The Parish Health Promoters program is a partnership between Catholic Charities and Providence Health and Services, a Catholic health care network in Oregon. It strives to share health education and information in a way that is empowering and culturally appropriate. Promotores disseminate information and liaise between the parish, the community, and the health care delivery system.
Promotores provide referrals to people seeking health care, drawing on a network of providers who are willing to reduce costs and offer payment plans. A man named Alberto was able to get a heart procedure done at a reduced cost, which enabled him to return to work to support his family. Ana, a young woman suffering a terrible toothache and swollen face, found a dentist to treat the problem and accept payments over time. And Luz, who worried that she would not have the prenatal care she needed, found care and support in a prenatal support and care program at one of Providence Health’s clinics.
The Parish Health Promoters program is helping immigrants overcome the challenges in accessing affordable health care. Many cannot afford health insurance, and others cannot find providers who will help because of language barriers or lack of information about general health and the medical system.
Promotores are recruited from predominantly Hispanic Catholic parishes in the Portland area and complete intensive 15-week training on illness, health, and local health care services. After graduation, they are integrated into parish teams, where they become the main contacts on health care issues for parish staff and the community that the serve. They organize classes, arrange health screenings, sponsor health fairs, and bring about other opportunities for members of the community to improve their health and wellbeing. Ongoing activities include chronic disease management classes, nutrition classes, mobile dental and health screenings, blood drives, and visits to local farms to serve farmworkers.