"A healthy child deserves everything, but a sick child deserves much more."
This saying holds a special meaning for South Central Los Angeles-based promotora de salud Consuelo Pernia, who has worked in her community for 15 years helping families, particularly children, living with asthma.
Consuelo studied medicine in her native Cuba nearly 40 years ago, where she worked as a pediatrician. Her medical training helps her in her role as a promotora and senior asthma specialist with Esperanza Community Housing Corporation's Healthy Breathing program.
"The education I received in my country, where the physicians are trained to work with and for the community, has made my job easier," says Consuelo.
"As a promotora, I consider it a privilege that people open their homes to us to practice our job there."
Consuelo encourages families to have a better quality of life by educating and advising them about asthma. "I teach them with love, patience, and respect, and listen to their concerns and doubts about the disease," she says. "I practice great empathy with the people I have seen."
When working with her young patients and their families, Consuelo sometimes experiences challenges in helping them control their asthma. "There is a fear of taking medications, especially controllers, as they are steroids," says Consuelo. "There is the belief that asthma medications are habit forming, and this prevents people from using the medicine as the physician prescribes, along with not taking them to achieve their maximum efficacy."
Consuelo also works with the California Department of Public Health's Asthma Management Academy (AsMA) as a CHW Trainer.