Arkansas Human Development Corporation’s (AHDC) Health Outreach Program initiative began in the early 1990’s with AHDC’s inclusion in the Mid-Western HIV/AIDS Prevention and Education Consortium, which was administered by United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Funding was provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and allowed Consortium members to develop culturally appropriate materials for Hispanic and Latin-American families and the medical provider community and disseminate those materials in a way that would stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in the service area.
Goals and Services
The goals and services of the health outreach program are to assist Arkansas’s economically disadvantaged individuals and families in learning skills that promote healthy responses to romantic or sexual overtures and combat sexually transmitted diseases; provide easily-understood bilingual culturally appropriate learning materials; aid, educate and encourage participants living with Diabetes, Cancer and Hypertension to change their lifestyles, eat right and take their medication as prescribed by their physicians; highlight the importance of prenatal care, reproductive health, and childhood immunizations; provide education about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, using other tobacco products and about second-hand smoke.
The Health Outreach Program also provides referrals to tobacco products cessation services; provides translation/interpretation services and minimal transportation services; provides one-on-one and small group health information and education services (classes); participates in and facilitates health fairs; and provides some first aid. Additional services include conducting health and disease prevention assessments; making referrals to clinics, health departments, and other agencies and organizations; teaching farmworkers, their families, farmworker service providers, and community leaders about pesticide safety; and linking farmworkers and their families to resources and services.
The Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP) has received grants from the Corporation for National Service (CNS) and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since 1994, to administer and coordinate the AmeriCorps National Farmworker Environmental Education Program. As a member of AFOP, AHDC received two (2) AmeriCorps members each year to work with the Health Outreach Program for one year. The AmeriCorps’ members are eligible to apply to volunteer for AHDC a second year based upon their individual performance the previous year.
In 1998, AHDC developed the Promotoras de Salud Project (Health Promoters program). The Promotoras de Salud program currently has five (5) Health Promoters that provide bilingual health education and prevention information to members of the Hispanic and Latin-American communities. The major sources of funding for this program have or currently include:
- Arkansas Blue and You Foundation
- Arkansas Department of Health (ADH)
- Arkansas Department of Human Services
- Arkansas Minority Health Commission
- Bruce Family Foundation
- Levi Straus Foundation
- University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Minority Initiative Sub-Recipient Grant Office
- United States Department of Health and Human Services
- United States Environmental Protection Agency
Promotoras (Health Promoters) are not nurses or health professionals. They are members of the local community that receive health information, training and appropriate certifications that allows them to deliver educational information to their families and friends. They work in the community, encouraging the target population to take better care of their health and educating them in utilizing the public health care system. Since they are part of the target population, they can effectively convey health messages in a cost-effective manner. No formal education or English proficiency is required. The Community Health Promotor/Promotoras de Salud model was developed in Latin America by Paulo Freire and others, who were addressing the shortage of funds and doctors.
The roles of Health Promoters include, but are not limited to:
- Assists in increasing the availability of culturally and linguistically competent health services
- Conducts needs assessments
- Networks with other Community Based Organizations [CBOs], government agencies, and other sources for referrals
- Documents accomplishments
- Assists in evaluating effectiveness of programs and impacts
- Measures changes in the community’s knowledge, attitude and belief methods
- Conducts community surveys
- Conducts focus groups
- Provides feedback from the community on how to improve the project
Because of the strong collaborative effort of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), and AHDC’s Health Outreach, there are now 10 new medical interpreters available in the community to assist Hispanic patients through the intake process at UAMS. The group received intensive and specialized training to prepare them to provide English/Spanish interpretation/translation services to schools, hospitals, county health departments and primary care providers.