Community health workers deliver education programs aimed at reducing Hispanic health disparities
A grassroots initiative at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso recently received a gift from JPMorgan Chase to continue the university’s mission of helping local residents support their communities.
The $7,500 grant will go to TTUHSC El Paso’s Promotores de Salud Outreach Program. Promotores de salud are community health workers trained to deliver bilingual, culturally competent health education within their communities. Alongside the El Paso-Health Education and Awareness Team (EP-HEAT), the promotores have educated El Pasoans about COVID-19 and the vaccines and boosters to protect against the virus. They have also distributed more than 5,000 care packages with face masks, hand sanitizer and educational materials.
This past summer, EP-HEAT opened the doors of TTUHSC El Paso’s newest addition, Medical Sciences Building II, to residents of the 79905 ZIP code for weekend computer literacy workshops. Promotores assisted residents as they completed Microsoft and LinkedIn Pathway skills trainings. Through the training, residents became familiar with the internet and its health care resources and were able to keep a Microsoft ThinkPad. The 79905 ZIP code was chosen because it’s the neighborhood that’s home to the TTUHSC El Paso campus.
“Promotores serve as the liaisons between the health care professionals and the community. By supporting the program, this grant is empowering residents to advocate for their own health and addressing the digital divide for underserved communities,” said Jessica Chacon, Ph.D., director of Promotores de Salud and EP-HEAT. “Our promotores are an integral part of EP-HEAT. They are training and mentoring the students on how to effectively communicate with the community, both in English and Spanish. Our promotores are trusted in the communities because they work alongside residents to help improve their own neighborhoods.”
EP-HEAT is made up of TTUHSC El Paso faculty, staff members and students. Dr. Chacon, who is also an assistant professor of immunology and microbiology at the Foster School of Medicine, created the group in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group has benefitted the El Paso community in a variety of ways, including hosting virtual health education fairs and assisting with vaccinations of Mexican factory workers (epheat.com).
“The health care needs of the community are vast and programs like Promotores de Salud are vitally important to the overall well-being of our region,” said JPMorgan Chase Bank Market Executive Ruben Hernandez. “JPMorgan Chase is proud to help our friends at TTUHSC El Paso and our community health workers with this worthy initiative.”
TTUHSC El Paso is the only health sciences center on the U.S.-Mexico border and serves 108 counties in West Texas that have been historically underserved. It is one of only two health sciences centers in the nation designated as Title V Hispanic-Serving Institutions, preparing the next generation of health care heroes, 50% of whom identify as Hispanic.