Guest Post By:
Antonio M. Villa Payares, MD, MPH
Department of Kinesiology and Health Sciences
Virginia Commonwealth University
In the Central Virginia area, access to reliable and high-quality health information has been one of the top health needs identified for the Hispanic/Latino community through diverse needs assessment in the last 10 years. It is known that one of the main priorities for underserved communities in Virginia is to reduce health disparities. Reducing health disparities requires using community engagement strategies such as clinical preventive services access and providing health information in Spanish to empower individuals and families for self-management and health promotion.
La Casa de la Salud’s mission to contribute to health improvement and wellbeing of the Hispanic Community achieved its goal of providing relevant health information by engaging about 2,000 Hispanic individuals and families. A partnership with VCU Libraries Health and Wellness Library allowed us to provide training to Community Health Workers (CHWs) to find reliable health information in the Spanish language. This increased La Casa’s ability to serve the Hispanic community with high-quality health information resources. Combining the strategy of empowering the Hispanic community with health information as well as access to health services and programs, LCS holistic model focused on healthy lifestyles and hopes to contribute with improved health of the Hispanic community and lower healthcare system costs.
We learned from this project that we not only need to promote services via a website, but also through the combination of other channels such as radio, social media, and calling services. Through these tools La Casa can create effective channels of communication to impact positively the general community.
Health information that is relevant, current, and easy for the layperson to understand builds credibility between the community and LCS. La Casa de La Salud regularly updates its website as well as its Facebook page with reliable health information. However, we recognize that the message is often received more effectively in-person, so it encourages its CHWs to remain active in the community. LCS has used its website to help increase knowledge about several severe illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and mental health issues. In many cases, these diseases can be prevented or reduced in severity if the proper lifestyle model is followed. An informed community can be more proactive in preventing severe illness and death using reliable and accurate health information.
LCS will continue to prioritize its partnerships with churches and the VCU Health and Wellness Library to sustain and support CHWs and leaders with relevant, scientific, and reliable health information.