To keep ACCION (Against Colorectal Cancer in Our Neighborhoods) community collaborators informed about ACCION’s program progress–now in its third year of providing free colorectal cancer (CRC) screening–the TTUHSC El Paso Department of Family Medicine staff credit their promotoras (community health workers) with much of its success.
The ACCION program funded by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) provides no-cost CRC education and free screening for eligible participants. It provides help with scheduling, transportation and accessing treatment services.
ACCION is a partnership between TTUHSC El Paso, University Medical Center of El Paso and over 100 collaborating organizations in El Paso County. Dept. of Family Medicine promotora Rosa Maria Holguin was recently interviewed about her work.
Holguin received community health worker (CHW) accreditation through the El Paso Community College CHW program in 2008 and has been an ACCION promotora since the program began.
What positive experiences have you had with ACCION? “Building relationships with our community and gaining acceptance for our services and then hearing from people that they will help us get the word out to their family, friends, and neighbors makes me feel that we are all part of a team. I like to see people’s expressions when I tell them that they are receiving free CRC screening services— they look at me like they can’t believe what they are hearing and then they are grateful for the test, but also the education since the majority of people have never heard much about CRC.
Have you encountered any barriers in the work you do? “People that are in denial about CRC and other health issues, especially men. Some people have fears and are ignorant about CRC and this becomes challenging when trying to enroll participants into the program. Also, I noticed people hesitate when they see the paperwork we have to fill out and then express more concern when I ask them for their signature on the consent form. I think they feel that they might have problems if they sign.”
Her thoughts on the role of the promotora in promoting CRC screening: “I believe that promtoras are the bridge between the community and access to services and in this case, access to free CRC screening. We have skills to provide educational services using various methods and we know how to reach the community. I believe ACCION has taken advantage of the important relationship that promotoras have with our community and in turn, we are saving lives.”