Advancing Latino Health Equity Through Community Health Workers

September 21, 2022 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

The patient journey starts with vulnerability. There is a need yet all too often within minority communities, that need isn’t met with adequate resources. Latinos, in particular, face several obstacles to accessing health care, from difficulties finding information in their native language to a shortage of Latino or bilingual doctors. Additionally, lack of transportation and reluctance to take time off work, alongside the fear of deportation for undocumented Latinos, further exacerbate the problem. As a consequence, some Latinos forgo care, and that decision could prove fatal.

To address these barriers and improve health outcomes for Latinos, it’s essential to understand their patient journey and identify the friction points, one being the lack of community navigators. Community navigators, more commonly known as community health workers, are the bridge between the healthcare system and patient care. Community health workers are essential to underserved communities as they attempt to simplify and demystify the complex systems that have historically ignored the needs of minority communities.

In Latino communities, these navigators are known as promotores de salud (promotoras). Promotoras play a critical role in educating Latinos and directing them to resources, like primary care physicians, which is in stark contrast to them relying on informal information sources like social media or family. These individuals, seen as trusted messengers, are often Latino and understand the plight of Latino families and make recommendations that align with the Latino lifestyle in efforts to close the health equity gap.

Zócalo Health has its finger on the pulse of Latino health care and champions the use of promotoras. Through its innovative virtual-first family medicine service for Latinos, it’s committed to helping remove barriers to healthcare by offering convenient, transparent, and culturally-aligned care to members.

In this episode of The New Mainstream podcast, Mariza Hardin, Co-Founder, Head of Strategy and Operations, and Erik Cardenas, Co-Founder, CEO of Zócalo Health, share the importance of promotoras (community health workers) in improving health care outcomes for Latino communities.