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CEMHD's Women's Health Project Begins Work in Hudson with New Peer Outreach Assistants

Graduation Ceremony Held for Four Women Completing Peer Training

Women’s Health Project peer outreach assistants mark the completion of their training with a graduation ceremony at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood’s Hudson, N.Y., health center. From left, Sylvia Jones, Maria Hansberry, Tiffany Garriga, and Arylee Ojumu.
Hudson, N.Y. (December 16, 2011) – Four Hudson residents have received certificates for completing training as adult peer outreach assistants for the Women's Health Project (WHP), a community-based initiative of UAlbany's Center for Elimination of Minority Health Disparities (CEMHD).

Tiffany Garriga, Maria Hansberry, Sylvia Jones and Arylee Ojumu, who were honored at a graduation ceremony held at Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood's (UHPP's) Hudson health center on Dec. 15, will be working with the project to encourage low income women of color in Hudson to take positive steps toward caring for their reproductive health.

The women were hired by WHP, whose Hudson field office is in the Bliss Towers housing complex, in the early fall. Their graduation marks the end of a ten-week training program designed for the Project by UHPP education and patient services staff.

The training program provided each participant with basic knowledge in health topics, such as the importance of annual "well woman" GYN exams (including breast and cervical cancer screenings), reproductive anatomy, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, and safer sex. Participants learned about outreach skills and techniques, from how to approach people in a non-intrusive way to how to respond to those who may react negatively.

They also learned specifics about where women can go in the local community for affordable health care services, and options for insurance coverage.

WHP is funded through the University's CEMHD under a grant from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health. The project's purpose is to identify effective strategies for encouraging underserved women in small town settings to seek more regular reproductive healthcare services.

The peer outreach assistants have begun assisting the project with its bimonthly community health education events and weekly outreach sessions in the lobby of Bliss Towers. Dr. Annis Golden, director of WHP and associate professor in the Department of Communication, is very encouraged by the results so far. "Attendance at our events has increased markedly this fall with the participation of the peer group," she said. "But this type of program not only helps us connect with more women in the community; it also builds longer term capacity for health promotion in the community."

According to Rob Curry, UHPP's senior vice president for external affairs who designed and delivered much of the training, the women showed "a wonderful enthusiasm for the material and a commitment to finding ways to share this information with the neighborhood residents. They understand the daily challenges faced by their friends and neighbors and are proud to be able to offer them useful and sometimes critical information about health topics and available health services."

The CEMHD is a collaborative effort focusing on minority health disparities in the smaller cities and towns of New York. The Center works toward eliminating minority health disparities by developing capacity in faculty at the University at Albany and by partnering with community groups to identify community health concerns and sources of disparities, plan strategies to alleviate them, and test their effectiveness.

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