– by Natalie Richardson
The health care system in the United States is not always the easiest to navigate or access, and it can get even more complicated when one is diagnosed with cancer. It can be overwhelming to coordinate different doctor appointments, lab tests, radiation appointments, chemo treatments, etc. and even more stressful to figure out what your insurance covers or not, to apply for Medicaid or Medicare and to wait for approval.
Now, imagine how difficult it can be for someone who doesn’t speak English, doesn’t have health insurance, doesn’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare and has little to no access to the health care system.
This is where the Ventanilla de Salud’s partnership with the LIVESTRONG Foundation enters into the equation. Together with the LIVESTRONG Navigation team, we help fill in these gaps in service for the most vulnerable of cancer patients in Central Texas.
In 2010, LIVESTRONG began to partner with the Ventanilla de Salud, a program of the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin, to provide services and education to the Mexican immigrant and Spanish-speaking populations. Through this partnership, LIVESTRONG sends a “promotora,” or community health worker, to the Consulate to raise awareness and connect the Latino community to LIVESTRONG and other community resources.
The Ventanilla de Salud provides immigrant and Latino families culturally appropriate health education, free health screenings and referrals to community health services in partnership with the Consulate General of Mexico in Austin. The first Ventanilla was created in Los Angeles in 2003 as a response to unhealthy acculturation in Mexican immigrant communities. Unhealthy diets and lifestyle choices were leading to an increase in obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, and little understanding of the U.S. health care system along with other factors led to limited access to preventive health measures. The Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs sought to fill this need by establishing health care navigation centers inside Mexican consulates, and now there is one located inside each consulate in the U.S.
At the Austin Ventanilla, the LIVESTRONG promotora performs outreach and education and serves to connect cancer survivors to our services. These services are provided in both English and Spanish, and there are no income or documentation requirements to qualify, making it a great resource for the immigrant population. Using the Ventanilla’s existing outreach structure, the promotora reaches a normally hard-to-access Latino community through health fairs, food distributions and other events, connecting people in need with health resources and raising awareness about the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The promotora also visits oncology clinics and talks with patients individually about their concerns and needs. In some cases, short-term case management is provided to ensure the patient makes contact with all the resources needed.
We are proud of all of the success stories that have come from this partnership—helping patients receive financial assistance, get connected with emotional support groups and receive counseling. We look forward to continuing to provide joint services to this vulnerable population and are appreciative to LIVESTRONG for helping serve the immigrant community of Central Texas.
The LIVESTRONG Foundation offers one-on-one cancer navigation services in both English and Spanish. Contact a LIVESTRONG Navigator today by calling 1-855-220-7777 or by filling out our Online Intake Form.