For six years, Latinas Fuertes Y Saludables—Latinas: Strong and Healthy—has been a life-affirming event for Hispanic women who are empowered with education about healthy living and encouraged to share their knowledge with others.
More than 250 people recently gathered at Bayard Middle School, where Christiana Care Community Health Outreach and Education workers and partner agencies again brought life-saving information on cancer and other diseases directly to the people. This year’s partner agencies included the Delaware Breast Coalition, Westside Family Healthcare, Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, Delaware’s Division of Public Health, Latin American Community Center and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Philadelphia Affiliate.
Eighteen promotoras—promoters of health education— came together at the event to share their message with other Latinas in Delaware’s rapidly growing Hispanic population. The promotoras are volunteers trained in breast care outreach at Christiana Care’s Helen F. Graham Cancer Center.
“Each one of the promotoras represents a connection in a family network who can reach out to others,” says Nora Katurakes, manager of the Community Health Outreach & Education Department. “They are peer educators who are active in their communities, day in and day out.”
Spanish-speaking Christiana Care outreach workers, assisted by the Hispanic Nurses Association, also arranged screenings for cancer assessment, diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure for 65 people. In addition, 100 individuals were vaccinated against flu.
Nine women received mammograms at a mobile van that day. Christiana Care workers followed up with an additional nine women after the event and also arranged for them to get testing.
Zohra Ali-Khan Catts, director of the Cancer Genetics Program at the Helen F. Graham Center, spoke with women about the role genetics plays in some forms of cancer and the benefits of undergoing genetic testing. Dr. Marielena Velez, department of family medicine and Joceline Valentin, Community Outreach Coordinator /Women’s Health Navigator and the chair of the event, spoke with women about caring for themselves and local resources available to help fund breast cancer screenings.
The October event was part of Christiana Care’s year-round effort to reach out to neighbors who don’t have adequate access to health care, screenings and preventive care. By providing free tests and bilingual education in a community setting, Christiana Care and partners are working together to remove barriers to care and getting the word out to more people in need.
A Community Service Award was presented to the family of Marisol Mercado, who was dedicated to encouraging Latinas to receive regular mammograms in order to detect breast cancer early, when it is most effectively treated. Mercado died in February.
“Marisol participated in our first Latinas event and is a shining example of what a promotora can do by talking with others about breast health and caring for yourself so that you are able to care for your family,” Katurakes says.
Photo gallery: Latinas Fuertes Y Saludables
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