Ms. Rosalia Guerrero, a program manager for the Texas Public Health Training Center (TPHTC) at the University of Texas School of Public Health, has been appointed to an advisory committee on community health worker certification and education.
Ms. Guerrero will represent higher education for the Community Health Worker Training and Certification Advisory Committee for a term which ends on Jan. 1, 2019. Her appointment came from Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The purpose of the committee is to advise the commissioner and the staff at the DSHS promotora/community health worker program on the state of this public health workforce as well as the rules and regulations set by the Texas Legislature that impact them.
As the program manager for the TPHTC, oversees a robust training program that had more than 50 community health worker graduates in 2015. She also educates local health care organizations on utilizing community health workers as a part of their practice. The center has collaborative efforts with other programs such as those which are part of UT Physicians, UTHealth regional campus community programs, Harris Health, Gateway to Care, Texas Southern University and Houston Housing Authority. Guerrero spends much of her time working out in the community doing training, certification and curriculum development for programs that employ community health workers.
In addition to its Houston campus, UTHealth’s campuses in Austin, Brownsville, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio are also working with populations in the surrounding communities.
Working in the border town of Laredo, Texas, is where Guerrero first got her start training promotoras in 1995. She worked in a mobile clinic with patients living in remote, unincorporated subdivisions known as colonias. Many of these patients were ill, she says, due to diseases that are preventable with the right health care. Promotoras help people get access to health care and health screenings, and understand chronic disease, stress-related illness and mental-health issues.
What is a community health worker or a promotor(a)?
According to DSHS, a community health worker is “a person who, with or without compensation is a liaison and provides cultural mediation between health care and social services, and the community. A promotor(a) or community health worker: is a trusted member, and has a close understanding of, the ethnicity, language, socio-economic status, and life experiences of the community served. A promotor(a) or community health worker assists people to gain access to needed services and builds individual, community, and system capacity by increasing health knowledge and self-sufficiency through a range of activities such as outreach, patient navigation and follow-up, community health education and information, informal counseling, social support, advocacy, and participation in clinical research.”