175249 Puentes de Salud: Providing culturally appropriate care to South Philadelphia's Mexican community

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Matthew James O'Brien, MD , Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar's Program, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Rebecca Bixby, RN , Puentes de Salud, Philadelphia, PA
Steve Larson, MD , Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Improving the health of recent Hispanic immigrants demands creative solutions that increase healthcare access and improve health literacy in a culturally appropriate manner. One example is provided by Puentes de Salud, a public-health model of disease prevention and health promotion created through sustained partnership between the University of Pennsylvania and South Philadelphia's new Mexican community. This collaboration began in 2004 with focus groups aimed to identify barriers facing this vulnerable population and learn its priorities for promoting health. Guided by continued community input, our clinic satisfies two important and previously unmet needs—providing access to culturally-appropriate primary care services and empowering community members with health-related knowledge. Puentes de Salud's collaborative nurse-managed model has succeeded both in providing longitudinal primary care, and securing access to specialty services. All Puentes de Salud staff and volunteers conduct medical visits in Spanish with a focus on Mexican cultural and health beliefs. Student volunteers accompany our patients to their specialty appointments to interpret and advocate for them in the mainstream healthcare system. Our education initiatives in the community range from ESL and exercise classes to promotora programs centered on diabetes care and cancer prevention. The inability of many recent Hispanic immigrants to access quality health care demonstrates a systematic failure to respond appropriately to this rapidly growing population. In order to meet our community's complex needs, Puentes de Salud serves as an innovative model to provide high-quality health care and improve health literacy—-both cornerstones for promoting health and reducing disparities in this vulnerable population.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe recent demographic trends in Hispanic migration in the Philadelphia area. 2. Present a culturally appropriate model for meeting the complex health-related needs of South Philadelphia’s Hispanic immigrant community. 3. Understand the role of innovative community-academic partnerships to address a wide range of issues that impact this vulnerable population’s health.

Keywords: Community-Based Health Care, Immigrants

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a co-founder of Puentes de Salud and a regular volunteer, in addition to their director of community-based research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.