Komen Grantee Breaking Down Language Barriers, Increasing Health Care Accessibility in Manatee County

Written by: Shelby Lopez

Accessibility to information is a luxury that is often taken for granted, but through funding from the Florida Suncoast Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center (GSAHEC) is able to provide a community health worker (CHW) breast health program. This program targets medically underserved Hispanic women/Latinas in Manatee County and African American women in north Sarasota County. Because the CHWs come from similar backgrounds and are respected in their community, they are better able to educate women on breast health and breast cancer.  GSAHEC, in partnership with Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County and the Newtown Wellness Program host community outreach programs and health events such as the Pink Ribbon/Pink Pajama parties, Pink Sunday, and the Breast Health Awareness Breakfast designed to join the community and educate on the importance of breast health.

To better understand the impact of the CHW Breast Health Awareness program Lisa Ramirez, the grant program coordinator for the Healthy Start Coalition, conducted an interview with a patient navigation client, Norma Guererro. When asked how Norma discovered the breast cancer navigation program at the Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County, she explained that she has known Martha (a CHW) since she was pregnant eight years ago when Martha was conducting a prenatal health education class through the Healthy Start Coalition of Manatee County. When Norma was having breast symptoms, she turned to Martha to assist her with the diagnostic process. Fortunately, Norma was not diagnosed with cancer and was able to get the proper medical guidance for her symptoms.  Norma described her experience with the program as “excellent!”She further explained that “Martha had translated, and provided support, overall”. Norma went on to say that without the navigators, her experience would have been a very complicated and challenging process, especially with the language barrier. Norma’s advice for women is to “ask questions,” which is how she has acquired so much information concerning breast health.

After the interview, Lisa acknowledged the fact that this kind of program is so important because “women who are unfamiliar with or un-trusting of the system will not access the services available even though, oftentimes, they are very much needed.” Through programs like CHW Breast Health Awareness, people in our community are positively impacted. The breast health education not only benefits the women seeking help, but their families and friends as well.

Spotlight Program: Community Health Workers Breast Health Awareness Program through the Gulfcoast South Area Health Education Center

Type of Service: Breast Health Education & Patient Navigation

Counties Served: Manatee and Sarasota

Target Populations: Hispanic and African American Communities

Funding History: Received $31,163.75 for 2012-13 grant cycle. GSAHEC is a 6-year Komen Florida Suncoast Grantee.