Mi Salud Es Primero (My Health Comes First) is Alivio Medical Center’s new peer support program. “Partners in Health” (Compañeros en Salud) are integrated with the primary care team to help patients improve self-management of their diabetes.
Program planning begins with listening to members of the community and developing programs in a participatory process that builds compañerismo (partnership).
According to Alivio Medical Center’s Executive Director Carmen Velásquez, the core strategy of the program is to establish bridges between strong community resources and Alivio’s high quality team-based primary care.
The diabetes community health workers (compañeros en salud) provide peer support and will ultimately assist up to 4,000 other Latino persons with diabetes in learning practical ways and self-manage diabetes in their day-to-day lives.
Compañeros en Salud are indigenous to the community they serve. They undergo intensive training to help neighbors with diabetes learn to engage in effective clinical care & self-management behaviors (e.g., glucose-monitoring, medicine adherence, physical activity, healthy diet, etc).
Community outreach and education is closely coordinated with the clinical primary care team and activities in the health center, such as “Stop Diabetes Fridays at Alivio”.
Program effectiveness and positive outcomes are measured by quality of life and clinical indicators such as HbA1c, blood pressure, body mass index, and kidney function).
The compañeros de salud program is being developed in partnership with the AAFP Peers for Progress program, part of a larger world-wide movement of diabetes peer counselors, promotores de salud, patient navigators, and other culturally-relevant community health workers.
For Further Reading:
“Peer Support As Strategy for Patient Engagement, Prevention, and Diabetes Management”