Mountain Park Health Center is a one-stop shop for primary care services. This means our patients can see a physician, a dietitian, a behavioral health consultant and other professionals that care for their health at each visit. Our promotoras are key members of the Mountain Park Care Team.
Mountain Park has four Health Outreach Workers, also known as promotoras de salud in Spanish, to follow up with our patients and their treatment plans.
“They are the link between our providers and the communities we serve, and they’re here to motivate, encourage and make sure patients know we care for them and will go the extra mile to help them,” Valentina Hernandez, Director of Integrated Nutrition Services said. “They are here to talk to patients, to get to know them and to help them in ways that are sometimes unexpected.”
Josefina Arellano, a patient at our Baseline Clinic, was diagnosed with diabetes 18 years ago. Since then, her life has changed for the better.
Laura helps patients understand the changes they need to make to lead healthier lives while living with diabetes.
Josefina is one of the more than 10,000 patients with diabetes treated at our clinics and one of nearly 3,000 patients that attended our health education classes in 2017. Our diabetes class covers all aspects of the disease, including medication, complications and healthy eating. Our registered dietitians—with the help of our promotoras—present this class once a week in both English and Spanish at no cost to our patients. Promotoras are crucial to getting patients to attend the classes offered at Mountain Park.
“When I met Josefina, I encouraged her to come to our classes,” Guadalupe Estrada, a promotora at our Baseline Clinic said.
Since then, her blood sugar has been lower, and her health has improved a lot.
“Before I was diagnosed with diabetes, my legs and feet hurt, my energy was low, my hands were shaking and I had a rapid heartbeat,” Josefina remembered. “At that time I was a full-time caregiver for children. I loved my job, but I couldn’t keep working—it was too much. I’ve learned to take care of my entire self. I used to eat a lot of bad food. They’ve taught me to eat healthier and exercise more, as well as to recognize some of the barriers that I have to my health and to address them.”
Studies in Arizona have shown the effectiveness of promotoras de salud, who improve attendance at diabetes classes and help patients reach set goals. This treatment model helps reduce blood pressure and sugar levels and helps in weight management.
Frida Cuellar, a promotora at our Gateway Clinic, told us what keeps her going is seeing her patients attending classes, working for their health and making healthier decisions.
“You can see that they appreciate your everyday work,” she added.
Our promotoras are involved in so much of what we do: our All Kids Can Club, Viva Maryvale, Every Little Step Counts, Summer Lunch Buddies, and Sangre por Salud Biobank. Some of these projects are part of a joint effort with Arizona State University, YMCA, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Mayo Clinic, with the overall purpose of providing the best possible care for the communities we serve together.
“Promotoras work 24/7, either at the clinic or in the community,” Marta Ormeno, a promotora at our Maryvale Clinic said.
“There are already promotoras out there helping the community in many ways, they don’t even know that they are promotoras. Those people have a natural spirit of service,” added Laura Vega, a promotora at our Maryvale and Goodyear clinics.
Even so, finding the right promotora to do this important work can be a challenge. According to Valentina, they must have excellent people skills and be able to make patients feel welcome. Ultimately, they need to have a passion for helping people.
“These are not skills you can easily look for on a resume, but when you meet someone with these qualities you know right away that they will be a good fit,” she said.
Josefina and Guadalupe (above) share a hug at our Baseline Clinic, while Frida (below) makes sure our patients are getting the resources they need.