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Helping Rural Hispanic Communities Through Health Net’s Volunteer Network


Published Aug 27, 2019 • by AHIP

In rural Madera County, Calif., the largely Latino population suffers from many health challenges common to much of rural America. Residents have difficulty navigating the health care system and need community and social services to address critical social determinants of health such as food insecurity, transportation issues, and connecting with local school districts. These residents are underserved, due to a shortage of providers and culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

Health Net, a subsidiary of Centene Corporation, is addressing these challenges head-on. Through its Promotores Health Network, the health insurance provider works in close partnership with members of the community and takes a whole health approach to assisting at-risk individuals.

“Promotores de Salud” (Health Promoters) are residents trained by Health Net who volunteer to help other locals navigate the health care system. The Promotores network has used a grassroots strategy as the main pillar of its system navigator model to boost access to local resources and deliver culturally relevant education.

Health Net trains Promotores de Salud in a variety of health topics relevant to their communities, including what local services local services and resources are available for those in need. They also participate in community activities and engage local residents, with the goal of informally learning about the health needs and priorities of the communities. Madera County, for example, has a large migrant population whose needs include culturally relevant education on asthma, diabetes, women’s health issues, health screenings, and healthy diet.

Health Net adopted the best practices of similar programs in Latin American countries, from which many Madera County residents have roots. Through this model, community leaders acting as Promotores built trust with members and expanded the scope of the program. Member satisfaction and engagement with the program are both high – indicating success at this early stage. The Promotores program is also active in East Los Angeles, where a similar model of health promotion and education is delivered to urban populations.