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Progreso Latino Launches Wellness Program

The Inaugural Class of “Blue Health Angels” has been trained to advise members of the Latino community based on peer knowledge of health issues CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (April 21, 2009) – …

The Inaugural Class of “Blue Health Angels” has been trained to advise members of the Latino community based on peer knowledge of health issues

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (April 21, 2009) – Last Thursday, April 16, Progreso Latino graduated 11 students who will work in its Wellness Center and advise fellow members of the Latino community about improving their general health and accessing healthcare. The Blue Health Angels Program was funded by a Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island Community Health Grant.

“There is a very real disparity in Rhode Island in who gets excellent healthcare and who doesn’t,” said Ramon Martinez, the president and CEO of Progreso Latino. “We designed this program so we can help close that gap and improve the lives of our constituents. We thank our Blue Health Angels for enrolling in this special training so they can offer meaningful health literacy and health education advice. We’re also very thankful to Blue Cross for funding this initiative through the Community Health Grants program.”

The percentage of Hispanic/Latinos in R.I. who report having no health insurance is nearly four times higher than the white population and almost three times that of the overall state population. The percentage of Hispanics/Latinos who report being unable to afford to see a doctor is more than twice that of the white and overall state populations. (Office of Minority Health, R.I. Dept of Health, 2007).

“We strongly support prevention tactics that empower individuals to improve their health,” said Linda H. Newton, vice president of diversity & community relations, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island. “We commend Progreso Latino for designing a program that promotes healthy choices and early detection and treatment.”

Progreso Latino founded its Wellness Center in 1996 with the goal of eliminating the disparity in access to health services that exists between the Latino community and the general populace. The Blue Health Angels will assist community members with health screenings; involve them in exercise classes; host educational workshops; provide referrals; and assist with applying for medical insurance and free/low-cost medical services.

“We recognize the value of education in combating disease,” said Martinez. “We want to help people avoid behaviors that put their health at risk, and assist them in identifying the early warning signs of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and other diseases so they can get treatment early.”

Progreso Latino is the largest bilingual, multicultural, empowerment community-based agency in the state of Rhode Island. The mission of the Wellness Center is to eliminate the disparity in access to health services that exists between the Latino community and the general population, and to provide the Latino community with information and education on topics such as HIV prevention, cancer awareness, diabetes, nutrition, cardiovascular disease, domestic violence, women’s health issues, substance abuse and many others.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is the state's leading health insurer and now covers more than 600,000 members. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The BlueAngel Community Health Grants (BACHG) program provides grants to deserving organizations that are working to address important health issues in Rhode Island. Since 2002, BCBSRI has donated more than $1.3 million through the program and the lives of more than 55,000 people have been impacted by the funded programs and services.

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