Originally from the northern state of Durango in Mexico, Teresa Berumen understands the complexities of navigating healthcare in a new language and different environment. At the age of 14, Berumen was encouraged by her mother to help translate for other Spanish-speaking patients at the clinic they visited.
“She would take me to help translate for them. And I would say to her, ‘but I don't speak English well enough, 'and she would say ‘But you speak it better than I do and better than they do.’”
This initial push from her mother was all Berumen needed to fuel a lifelong passion for community health work. “I am still very passionate about my work, connecting people to resources, and making it easier for them to understand,” she said.
Berumen recognizes the importance of the connection between community and health. “Community health is something that we do every day, we just don’t realize it,” Berumen says. Her experiences early in life shaped her view of healthcare and paved her way to a career in community health work.
Established in 2018, the RUSH Community Health Worker Hub — in the Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement — has formed a team that represents the community and creates job opportunities for locals. These workers, who can speak English and Spanish, work closely with Rush's social workers and nurses to help people access the care and services they need.
Community health workers engage with patients in many areas including school-based health centers, the RUSH Cancer Center, and the Emergency Department. They help patients navigate their care, conduct social determinants of health screenings, and connect people to resources they need to live their healthiest lives.
Berumen says, “By addressing those social determinants of health and providing some of the resources that they so much need, then they have the time and the mind to focus on their health.”
Now in her fifth year, Berumen is happy that her love for community continues to be supported.
“I thought I was going to miss the community piece of my work,” she says. “I was so thrilled to learn that RUSH is so committed to the communities it serves.”