Community Outreach & Patient Empowerment
- Program Representative Interviewed: Sonya Shin, Executive Director
- Location: Gallup, New Mexico
Program Overview: The Community Outreach
& Patient Empowerment (COPE) Program is a collaboration between Brigham & Women's
Hospital, the Navajo Community Health Representative Outreach Program, Navajo Area Indian Health
Service, and 638 facilities and partners in health. COPE's programs work to address SDOH and
reduce health disparities for American Indians and Alaska Natives. COPE's mission is to improve
health and equity by empowering Native communities through 3 main strategies: community-based
outreach, local capacity building and system-level partnerships, and increasing access to healthy foods.
To improve access to healthy foods in the Navajo Nation, COPE administers programs such as the Navajo Wholesome Rx: Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx), the Healthy Stores Initiative, and the Growers Initiative. FVRx engages local health clinics to provide free vouchers for fruits and vegetables to underserved people, including pregnant women and families with children under age 6, in an effort to improve consumption of healthy foods. Families can use these vouchers in local grocery stores, which then send used vouchers to COPE to be processed for reimbursement.
COPE's programs use adapted evidence-based models and culturally tailored materials and approaches to ensure they are effective in the Native community. For example, COPE tailored the Healthy Homes/Happy Homes childhood obesity prevention curriculum for the Navajo Nation by maintaining the core principles of the curriculum while incorporating aspects into the program that are important to the local Native culture. The curriculum was adapted to include hands-on skills training, activities that emphasize Navajo language, and food demonstrations on how to prepare traditional, locally grown foods.