Health Workers Help Latino Parents Overcome Language Barriers in Austin

Jan 6, 2015

Sendero Health Plans recently started a pilot program that sends community health workers with the Latino Healthcare Forum to homes of Spanish-speaking parents who need help understanding what the doctor recommended -- an effort meant to reduce ER visits.

Spanish-speaking parents who have a child on Medicaid or CHIP, the Children's Health Insurance Program, through a Sendero health plan and see a doctor at Carousel Pediatrics may now request a visit at home to understand what the doctor recommended.

A promotora, or community health worker who’s certified by the state and works with the Latino Healthcare Forum, makes the visits.

"If we can reach out to them in their home and build that bridge that between them and their medical care, then maybe it’ll prevent them from going to the ER," says Priscilla Gonzales with Sendero, a non-profit sponsored by Central Health, the Travis County Healthcare District

Promotora Josefina Lopez says her work makes her feel like part of the family, and like family, she calls frequently "to see how they’re doing, whether they found what they needed to get or give them another reminder about the doctor's directions, because sometimes they do forget."

The program started off with about 100 families. Organizers hope to expand it and include families who get pediatric care at the Southeast Health and Wellness Center in Austin's Dove Springs neighborhood.