Community-Based Participatory Research & Promotora -
The community lay health worker or ?promotora? concept was born in Mexico City in the 1960?s as a very economical and effective way of disseminating health prevention messages in city and rural neighborhoods. In the mid-80s, during my medical education, I was responsible of training and supervising a group of "promotoras". These individuals were trained to do outreach work mainly with low income families on issues such as childhood vaccinations, personal hygiene, basic nutrition, animal control and rabies vaccination, and other health issues.
When I worked for the local health department, I trained a group of "promotoras" to identify mosquito breeding sites and educate families on source reduction. With the STEER Program, I have worked on a number of health education and promotion projects utilizing the ?promotora? model. For instance, we recently concluded a 3-year project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This project targeted families living in ?colonias? along the U.S./Mexico border. Promotoras were trained to educate families on indoor allergens, health dangers of pesticide exposure, household hazardous products, and other environmental factors that affect health. We designed easy-to-read, colorful, attractive flashcards that "promotoras" used to educate community members.
Another project that concluded in 2012 was an education intervention aimed to increase awareness among parents, children, and staff of the Webb County Head Start program. STEER staff and I conducted training to a group of "promotoras" on environmental exposures including asthma triggers, lead, mercury, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds. Approximately 400 participants received education enhanced with hands-on activities to maximize retention and behavior modification. Knowledge gained and behavior modification was measured with pre and post tests. Results of pre and post tests showed a significant improvement on knowledge gained and favorable behaviors to avoid and/or reduce exposure.
Currently, I am the project coordinator for an Environmental Protection Agency Border Environmental Cooperation Commission (BECC) funded project. This is a binational "promotora" training project. We have conducted training to 40 promotoras from both sides of the border on preventing environmental exposures directly affecting Hispanic women of childbearing age and/or pregnant females and their offspring. This project will conclude in March, 2014.
Grant Writing -
I have vast experience writing grants. I was able to increase the HIV/AIDS/STD operational program budget from $75,000 to $750,000 in eight years. During my last year as director of this program, I wrote five HIV-related grant proposals, all of which were awarded funds.
As a Sanitarian with the local health department, I also wrote grants and was awarded monies to fund surveillance and mosquito abatement activities.
As UTHSCSA-STEER faculty, I participated in writing proposals to CDC, EPA, and EPA BECC. The most recent grant application is entitled ?Reducing Prenatal and Childhood Environmental Exposure Risks Among Hispanic Families in South Texas and North Tamaulipas?. STEER was awarded $50,000 from EPA-BECC to fund the activities outlined in this proposal.
As a board member of a local environmental advocacy group called the Rio Grande International Study Center (RGISC), I wrote several grant proposals to public and private funding sources. Thanks to these efforts and my previous grant writing experience, I was able to secure approximately $60,000 in one year to this non-profit organization.
Medical Assistant Course Instructor -
I have been an instructor of two educational organizations training medical assistants. My duties included lecturing on a number of topics such as Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, Triage, Positioning and Draping for Examinations, Preparing Patients for Examinations, to name a few. I also taught and supervised medical assistant students as they performed hands-on activities such as taking vital signs, EKGs, phlebotomy, finger sticks for blood glucose monitoring, hematocrit determination, urinalysis, as well as a number of CLIA waived tests such as urine pregnancy tests, fecal occult blood, and swab tests to screen for other diseases.
Translation Skills -
Most of my education, except for my MPH, was in Spanish. I have translated many of the educational materials that we have developed in the programs and projects in which I have been involved. Translations include power point presentations, brochures, flyers, flashcards, notebooks, manuals, modules, and consent forms.
The documents I have translated from English to Spanish have been approved by Institutional Review Boards, local, state, and federal organizations, and community representatives. I validate my translations with targeted audience focus groups to ensure accuracy. In addition,
I have performed simultaneous science and medical conference translations.
|4/2012 - Present
||Medicine and the Environment-Longitudinal Elective
||The University of Texas Health Science Center
|This elective discusses the role of environmental factors in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. It is structured as a five blocks course: 1) Individual differences in susceptibility, 2) Indoor environments, 3) Neurodevelopment and exposures, 4) Taking an exposure history, and 5) The personal precautionary principle. I provided student advise, mentoring, and guidance on environmental issues and offering additional resources such as books, peer-reviewed articles, and personal experiences.
|4/2010 - Present
||Environmental Medi/Border Health
||The University of Texas Health Science Center
|As a Senior Lecturer with the South Texas Environmental Education & Research (STEER) Program, I teach environmental and public health subjects to graduate level U.S., and international health professions students.
Topics I teach include food and water borne diseases, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and MDRTB, Dengue and West Nile Virus infection, and HIV/AIDS.
Other discussions include topics such as the Mexican health care delivery system, poverty, ?curanderismo?, and violence.
Environmental health is also a relevant part of the STEER curriculum, especially exposures that may be more prevalent in the border region such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present in household cleaning products and fragrances; respirable particulate matter (PM) from the combustion of wood and charcoal inside the home to heat up during the cold weather season, cooking inside the premises, and also from burning candles for religious purposes. Also, chronic exposure to heavy metals such as lead and mercury are a concern on the border.
STEER emphasizes hands-on activities with the use of a number of devices and equipment to complement theoretical aspects of environmental health: VOC detectors; PM measuring equipment, pig lungs to show COPD, lung cancer, and other adverse health effects of household environmental hazards.