Puentes in South Carolina: Building Bridges Between Latino Communities and Health Care Systems
A new program developed by PASOs, a program of the South Carolina Public Health Institute will be featured in a oral presentation at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting Tuesday, November 9, 2010: 4:30 PM.
- Deborah Billings, PhD , Health Promotion, Education and Behavior/ Women’s and Gender Studies, University of South Carolina, Arnold School of Public Health, Columbia, SC
- Julie Smithwick-Leone, LMSW , South Carolina Public Health Institute, PASOs Program, Columbia, SC
- Margarita Franco , South Carolina Public Health Institute, PASOs Program, Columbia, SC
Why is this a public health priority?
South Carolina is home to one of the fastest-growing new Latino populations in the nation. This recently-settled population faces formidable barriers in accessing quality health care.
What is the role of SCPHI in addressing this priority?
The Puentes Project, initiated in 2010, builds on the successful PASOs (Perinatal Awareness for Successful Outcomes) program housed at SCPHI to address a range of reproductive health needs of Latinos in the greater-Columbia, SC area. The Puentes Project is fostering new grassroots leadership among Latino immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, and working alongside these leaders to build lasting partnerships between their communities and health care service providers. The project builds on the knowledge and practices that Latino immigrants bring with them to South Carolina that tend to keep them healthy during their first years of residence while, at the same time, works to diminish the impact of barriers to health, including language, fear, and immigration status.
Latino and Latina community residents are being trained as Community Ambassadors, who play multiple roles in Puentes. They serve as community-based health educators who engage their peers in understanding their reproductive health and how to navigate health systems to gain access to the resources that they need. They also serve as liaisons between their communities and health care services to engage in problem-solving and solution development. Puentes is an innovative approach to developing grassroots community leadership, engaging leaders in developing solutions to issues of access, meeting the reproductive health care needs of Latina and Latino community members, and ultimately fostering lasting, sustainable social change.