Health issues transcend geographic boundaries. Dealing with disease and promoting healthy living in the border region requires line-crossing partnerships. SEAHEC works to enhance the well-being of people living in Arizona’s US-Mexico border region by collaborating with communities and health and social service agencies to enhance service efficiency and effectiveness. We do this through Border Binational Health Initiatives and cross-border networking.

The Arizona Border Communities Health Network

SEAHEC collaborates with partners on both sides of the Arizona/Sonora Mexico border to improve access to health care and health education.  The Arizona Border Communities (ABC) Network, is an effort to promote collaboration, coordination and communication between the Binational Health Council’s in each of Arizona and Sonora’s “sister cities” locations, including Ambos Nogales, Douglas/Agua Prieta and Yuma/San Luis.  Binational Health Councils (known in Spanish as “Cobinas” are recognized by each respective State and supported through the US Mexico Border Health Commission.

The Binational Council of Ambos Nogales

The Nogales Cobina meets bi-monthly and SEAHEC hosts the meetings when they are in Arizona.  The Centro de Salud, Nogales, Sonora, hosts the meetings when they are in Sonora.   Member health agencies share resources, promote binational educational events and promote healthy living in our shared border region. For a schedule of meetings and a list of member agencies, please contact Lupita Gonzales at lupita@seahec.org

Ventanilla de Salud

On January 31, 2020, a binational-interprofessional team of four SEAHEC interns worked with the Mexican Consulate (Douglas) to bring the Mexican Ventanilla de Salud Program to Pearce-Sunsites. Ventanilla de Salud is part of the Mexican Consulate’s Juntos por la Salud program aimed at Mexican nationals living in the US. The program provides health education, screenings and referrals as well as legal and financial resources. Services are offered at consulate offices and related public health events, but Mobile Health Units (MHU) expand services across the U. S. While the majority of MHUs are run by Juntos por la Salud, the University of Arizona College of Public Health operates MHUs out of Tucson and Phoenix.

Hosted by the Pierce-Sunsites Fire District, the first of the SEAHEC/Mexican Consulate Health Events for 2020 brought the UA Primary Prevention Mobile Health Unit into rural Cochise County. The Mobile Health Unit is managed through a partnership between the University of Arizona (UA) College of Public health and the Mexican Consulate.

SEAHEC/ Mexican Consulate (Douglas) team up to expand Ventanilla de Salud Program

The expansion of crucial public health services into rural southeast Arizona will serve Cochise, Graham and Greenlee Counties. SEAHEC interns train with Juntos por la Salud staff to enable them to provide Ventanilla de Salud services, formerly only available in urban areas or at Mexican Consulate offices. Available health screenings focus on helping people manage a healthy weight and prevent or control diabetes. Tests include Blood pressure, Height/Weight, BMI, Cholesterol, Glucose levels and A1C, (a common blood test used to diagnose type 1 and type 2 diabetes and to monitor how well diabetes management is working Source: Mayo Clinic). Also joining the effort will be the University of Arizona Cáncer Resource Center, which will provide cancer prevention information. Health education topics include colon cancer, skin cancer, and breast cancer.

“Paying it Forward” and inspiring youth through the SEAHEC/JTED Service Learning

While adolescence is often viewed as a challenging or troubling time for some, especially here in the U.S., it can be a positive life-changing and inspirational time as well.

Brenda Sanchez, SEAHECs Program Manager for Border Binational Initiatives, is one of those young people who was offered a life-changing experience in high school as she was encouraged to enroll in the Joint Technical Education Program known as JTED and she took courses on health careers, learning to become a CNA while still in high school and later getting a degree in public health. That degree landed her a job at SEAHEC and now, through our SEAHEC/JTED collaboration, Brenda is “paying it forward” and teens from around southern Arizona are offered a variety of service learning experiences. SEAHEC and JTED Health Care Professions program is offering 180 students the opportunity to immerse themselves for a year in an area of interest that addresses health disparities in our local community. Choosing between: health care and homelessness; addressing disabilities through adaptive sports, migrant health care, COVID-19 education and outreach at health fairs; community gardens and nutrition, among other topics, students learn about health issues and then get to volunteer with an agency that is addressing that issue head-on.

 

The overall goal for students enrolled in JTED’s Health Care Program is “to learn about all of the different careers/professional opportunities available to students interested in the health field”. The service learning component added an element of direct service and learning through service. In the first semester of JTED, the students had panels of experts on: Indigenous health; farmworker health; health care for people experiencing homelessness; people with disabilities; elder health and migrant and border health.

Then the students learned about social determinants of health – define- and health disparities. Students then participate in reflection of what they learned and how it applied to them, their lives and their academic studies. For example, when they interacted with their families, they brought up these difficult topics and enriched discussion. Each class (of about 25 students each) got to choose from among 8 topics for their service learning projects – Examples of service projects include: a migrant shelter donation drive; a donation drive for women’s feminine products; vaping prevention/peer mentors; health fairs for outreach on COVID education and resources; adaptive sports and disabilities; the Tucson Housing Department project had various donation drives and educational outreach to the general public about resources for the homeless and homelessness in our community; students volunteered at Southside Garden Kitchen and the Mexican Consulate health fairs, helping set up booths while learning about all of the different resource and organizations available.

 

 

Brenda Sanchez, former JTED student and Program Manager for SEAHEC shared: “I just had a group of high schoolers -14 and 15 year olds- in their early JTED classes, it has been so exciting seeing students being exposed to preventive health care and all of the aspects of heath care. That it is more than just traditional “medical” care – health goes lot farther than that.

 

About the multiplier effect, “I feel that our ability t share – seeing the students get excited when people talk about things that they are excited about – to engage with community members and their peers, especially since the students come from very diverse backgrounds, it is so enriching For example, there are students that had never been to south Tucson, and hearing from them how they shared that experience with their family members, students realize how diverse our city is. Students at the Bridges campus for example are so much more aware of the disparities within our community; than the students that live in other parts of town and are on other campuses. Both extremes, the diversity of the students coming together and sharing experiences. Some parents and families were donors and other students families have had to rely on their health care from health fairs.

 

Students learned about a variety of health professions geared towards people with different abilities: PTs; OTs and adaptive technologies; learned about community organizations available to those persons with diverse abilities. Southern Arizona Adaptive Sports, Pima Medical Institute, Encompass Health;

Learned about disparities in resources and access to these adaptive technologies. Student projects included learning about organizations and professions and then also cleaning and donating wheelchairs and prepare the different types of adaptive bicycles for the Tucsn Cyclovia event, like oiling bike chains, loading bikes etc. and then helped out at Cyclovia event, setting up booth for SAAS and educating community members on adaptive bikes and how they are used. They would accompany community members to ride adaptive bikes, which offered a unique perspective in to the world of abilities.

At the end of the semester, the high schoolers will present a poster at their local JTED campus summarizing their projects and what they have learned.

 

Meanwhile, Brenda continues to inspire others, “As a former JTED student creating this program is exciting, it adds another level of excitement – when students come up and ask me how JTED helped me, I am able to reflect upon it and realize that a lot of what I learned then, was really public health. The things I enjoyed learning about were the essence of public health – I just didn’t know that is what it was called. Now, being a public health professional, I enjoy igniting a spark in the students who do want to go in to public health – and this program has really come full circle.”

 

So, if you want to get involved in making your community a better place, or know someone who does, you can apply to the JTED program through your local high school (public, charter or home school) in Pima County. There is an application on the JTED page.

Border Health Interprofessional Service Learning Experience – BISLE

This interprofessional course is offered in one of several border “sister” cities of US Mexico border. It examines US & Mexican health systems, community resources and challenges unique to border region and offers ample opportunity for students to get involved in addressing local health needs. SEAHEC works with academic institutions to meet learning objectives for health professions and students in other areas of study. At the same time, we partner directly with other community health and social service agencies to assure that learning objectives align with and support community health needs and concerns. Students engage in meaningful learning, advocacy and transformative action. BISLE: Includes training students to provide care as part of an integrated team where they have the skills to work together, not just alongside others. It also includes training students to look at community or population health issues in a collaborative fashion. Objectives of the course include: increased understanding and gain skills in binational and interprofessional collaboration; increased awareness of unique strengths and challenges in addressing health and wellness; and enhanced skills in collaborating within a framework of community engagement within the context of the US Mexico border region.

Border Latino and American Indian Summer Exposure to Research (BLAISER ) 

Created to address health disparities in Arizona’s ethnically diverse and fast-growing communities BLAISER is offered to students at no cost and they receive a $3,000 stipend, housing, and undergraduate credit for their work.

Focusing Research on the Border Area  (FRONTERA ) 

Students who participate in the nine week FRONTERA program. A research internship offered to undergraduate, graduate and medical students at the University of Arizona, the FRONTERA Program is an ongoing services learning offering sponsored by the UA College of Medicine’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI). The program’s goals are to promote health services research in border communities while “increasing the pool of under-represented researchers interested in examining health disparities in the border region.”  Students participating in the FRONTERA program can expect to gain hands-on research training assisted by one-on one mentoring and reflection.

Binational Health Research Collaborative &  Info – for – Action binational health research conference is a group of motivated and dedicated faculty, agency staff and health professions students who are dedicated to promoting shared learning and research to improve quality of life in our US Mexico border region.  The Info For Action conference is an opportunity to highlight innovative work of up and coming researchers, students and faculty being done in the US Mexico border region to address issues of: vulnerable populations; maternal, child and adolescent health; and environmental health among other topics.  The Binational Health Research Collaborative represents a grassroots initiative of many border-serving community-based and academic institutions including: The Arizona Prevention Research Center of the University of Arizona (UA): Agnes Haury Program in Environment & Social Justice (UA); Northern Arizona University Center for Health Equity, Arizona State University School of Transborder Studies, SEAHEC, El Colegio de Sonora, Universidad de Sonora, Universidad del Valle de Mexico, Arizona Department of Health Services Office of  Border Health, Centro de Investigaciones en Alimentacion Y Desarollo, UA College of Medicine, Red Tematica Binacional en Salud Fronteriza and the Colegio de Frontera Norte.  Please join in!  Contact Gail Emrick at gemrick@seahec.org for more information.