We believe that a comprehensive strategy to promote wellness in any community must also target the social determinants of health. Health services research has repeatedly demonstrated the positive effect of health literacy on medical outcomes. Our educational programs for community members serve as a vehicle for improving not only our community’s health literacy, but also tackling the social and environmental conditions that strongly impact their health.

Children’s Education, Puentes Hacia el Futuro

Puentes Hacia el Futuro (Bridges Towards the Future) enhances our community’s health and wellness by providing innovative educational programming to children ages 3 to 18, and their families. As education is the most important social determinant of health, we address long-term health outcomes at their source. Puentes Hacia el Futuro provides year-round programming for students and their families.

  • Early Childhood Development
  • After-School Program Mentoring
  • Lanzando Lideres Adolescent Program
  • Summer Literacy Camp

Community Health Education

Health Education initatives provided to the community addresses diabetes management, prenatal education, oral health and more. The Promotora program addresses a wide range of issues in the community, including diabetes prevention, cervical cancer prevention, prenatal care, obesity, and nutrition.

Comenzando Bien Prenatal Education Program

Developed by the March of Dimes and the National Coalition of Hispanic Health and Human Services, Comenzando Bien is a prenatal education program for Latinx women. The curriculum–delivered by Puentes de Salud’s Community Nurse Liaison and volunteer student nurses–is designed to educate women in a supportive group setting about the importance of receiving prenatal care from early pregnancy through delivery. The program covers physiological and psychological changes during pregnancy, the stages of labor and strategies for managing physical symptoms. It also helps expectant mothers identify necessary behavior changes to prevent birth defects, premature delivery, low birth weight and infant mortality.

Diabetes Management

Puentes de Salud has developed an innovative diabetes management program that spans from the clinic to the community. A registry of diabetic patients at Puentes de Salud helps providers track patients’ regular laboratory tests and their receipt of appropriate medicines and services. Puentes de Salud offers all diabetic patients individual counseling with a nurse educator that covers the principles of sugar monitoring at home, dietary modification, physical activity and weight management. This program also features a series of group classes led by Puentes de Salud’s promotoras—including grocery shopping trips, cooking demonstrations and salsa dancing—for diabetic patients in the community setting.

Promotora Program

Since 2007, Puentes de Salud has been cultivating and supporting a dedicated group of community members who serve as community health workers, or promotoras, in South Philadelphia. The program began in an effort to increase Puentes de Salud’s reach into the community and to tackle important health issues outside the clinic where individuals need direct support with lifestyle decisions. The promotoras address a wide range of issues in the service of their community, including diabetes prevention, cervical cancer prevention, prenatal care, obesity, and nutrition. They lead workshops, provide individual counseling and patient navigation, and participate in research. The Promotora Program exemplifies the mission and dedication of the staff and volunteers at Puentes de Salud.

Higher Education

Working with underserved communities is often one of the most formative experiences that students undergo during their education. Over the last 10 years, Puentes de Salud has provided a venue for more than 500 students from surrounding universities to serve our community. Service-based learning is a powerful pedagogic tool in our teaching strategy. Puentes de Salud gives students the opportunity to serve South Philadelphia Latinxs in two ways: by participating in their clinical care and by educational programs for patients and families.

Nurse Practitioner Training

Newly graduated nurse practitioners (NPs) are not given the same opportunity to complete post-graduate clinical training as physicians. As a result, many new NPs feel unprepared for practice. With funding from The Barra Foundation, Puentes de Salud started the second NP residency program in the United States Through a one-year experience that combines supervised clinical experience and didactic sessions, Puentes de Salud seeks to provide the training necessary for new NPs to function more efficiently and effectively in a variety of practice settings. Puentes de Salud’s NP Residency Program includes supervised work in primary care, women’s health and emergency medicine, where residents are exposed to a full spectrum of disease. In addition to providing this important training experience for new NPs, the leaders of Puentes de Salud are also advocating for federal support of such programs. Puentes de Salud collaborates with the Community Health Center, Inc., in Middletown, Connecticut—the national leader in NP residency training—to provide this program.

Student Leadership 

Puentes de Salud has developed a highly organized student leadership structure comprising undergraduate, public health, medical, and nursing students. These student leaders manage a series of graduate coordinator roles, support to our clinical, wellness, and education programs, and participate in the daily functioning of our services. Their responsibilities also include orienting and training all Puentes de Salud volunteers, who number more than 200 at any one time. Ongoing student volunteer training help ensures that all volunteers function effectively in carrying out Puentes de Salud’s mission. Visit our volunteer page to see our Graduate Coordinator roles.

Puentes de Salud Programa de Intercambio Medico Cientifico 

Since 1991, Drs. Jack Ludmir and Steve Larson have cultivated extensive personal and professional relationships with colleagues in South America, Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Dedicated to sharing knowledge and technology with their Latin American counterparts, they have invited countless students, residents and physicians from Peru, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Mexico to observe medical education and clinical care in the United States. In addition, numerous medical students, residents, and faculty from the United States have been afforded opportunities to study and observe health care in the developing world. The long-term goal of these efforts is twofold: to continue to establish a north-south partnership that facilitates the exchange of information and knowledge; and, ultimately, to leverage resources to support the development of “south-south” partnerships.

See the Mesoamerican Health Initiative and the Pan American Health Organization for additional information.

Charla Program 

This program features weekly discussions, or charlas, on a wide range of topics, led by volunteers in the clinic waiting room. The charlas are intended to educate community members about health-related topics such as diabetes prevention, hypertension, and bone health. The program also covers topics that are not specifically focused on medical issues, but that play an important role in community health, such as immigrants’ rights, bike safety, sun protection and food stamp eligibility. Representatives of partnering organizations help present many of the nonmedical discussions, and refer Puentes de Salud’s patients to the services they provide.