204790 For heart's sake: Cardiovascular disease prevention for African-American women

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Kevin A. Alvarnaz, MBA , Community Health Improvement, WellSpan Health, York, PA
JoAnn Henderson , Community Health Improvement, WellSpan Health, York, PA
Public health literature has historically reported that ethnic and racial minorities have disproportionate rates of cardiovascular disease (CVD), with significantly higher rates evident among the African-American community. Recognizing the impact of this issue on the community, WellSpan Health implemented For Heart's Sake, a cardiovascular disease prevention initiative designed to reach uninsured and underinsured African-American women in an urban population. Although similar efforts to educate this community were previously conducted, For Heart's Sake was unique in that it engaged and empowered fifteen African-American women – leaders in their community – to “shepherd” their neighbors, friends, and family through a cardiovascular disease education and screening process. Led by a Community Health Worker, these women provided valuable feedback as to the cultural appropriateness of educating African-American women about healthcare issues, the screening services that should be offered, and how to effectively engage the population. They also served as volunteer lay leaders – assisting with the design, implementation, and evaluation of the program; inviting women to attend community events, and; conducting follow-up among program participants. Between July 2007 and June 2008, two community events were held with a total of 151 African-American women in attendance. Sixty-four attendees (42.4%) were identified as having high cholesterol, 47 (31.1%) with hypertension, and more than 50% were classified as obese. In addition, 28 women without a medical home were connected with local healthcare providers and 31 identified as un/underinsured were referred to appropriate services. Ongoing efforts to expand the program will also be discussed.

Learning Objectives:
1. Construct a community health worker model that actively engages and empowers lay health leaders in promoting healthy living. 2. Identify barriers to implementing a lay leader empowerment program. 3. Discuss outcomes from a community-driven cardiovascular disease education and screening program.

Keywords: Community Health, Minority Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I presently am Director of Community Health Improvement at WellSpan Health, an integrated healthcare system in South Central Pennsylvania, and have provided oversight to WellSpan's Community Health Worker program for the last three years.
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.