Just about everywhere in the world, the word for the person who does healthcare outreach in underserved communities is “promotora.”

In Orange County, it is now Community Outreach Services/Promotora.

That was the condition imposed by the Orange County Board of Supervisors Tuesday as they approved a $1.5-million grant to Latino Health Access for the program.

The program’s name became an issue earlier this month when Supervisor John Moorlach expressed concerns about using Spanish words in a mental health outreach grant.

Supervisor Shawn Nelson went even further, saying he had issues with the “Latino” in Latino Health Access.

Latino leaders were outraged by the stances taken by both Moorlach and Nelson. Nelson, however, has met with Latino Health Access leaders and talked things through.

According to health experts, the word promotora has become synonymous with localized outreach on difficult topics like mental health, where people are dealing with trained neighbors instead of government workers. The World Health Organization first developed the concept.

Latino Health Access has become a leader in the United States with the approach. In fact, county staffers initially used the word promotora in their own requests for proposals.

But after the questions from county supervisors, staff scrambled to concoct an alternate name. In the intervening weeks, numerous health care providers and experts, worried by the prospect of funds being delayed, have written to supervisors.

The issue ended Tuesday when with no debate the board voted to approve the contract for the renamed program.


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