Getting to the heart of saving lives

June 01, 2019

What began as a chance encounter by two passionate community leaders committed to health equity has evolved into a program that bridges the gap between language, culture and CPR training to save lives. In 2017, with $2500 of Community Benefit funds and interpreting support from Swedish hospital, the Western Washington National Association of Hispanic Nurses and the South Park Information and Resource Center (SPIARC) began building De Corazon, the only Promotora-led Spanish language CPR/AED and first aid trainings in the South King County area. Promotora is the term for a Spanish speaking and certified community health worker.

SWCBNews5“Since English was the only language in which to take advanced classes to become a CPR instructor there was a lack of access to CPR instructor curricula in any language other than English. In addition to language, there is also a gap in cultural diversity - which the Promotoras are bridging with De Corazon,” said Ellie Marsh, president WW-NAHN and clinical faculty at the University of Washington School of Nursing.

In 2018, with the support of Swedish and other community partners including Craig Baughnsmith-American Heart CPR Instructor and the Hope Heart Institute, De Corazon graduated and certified ten Promotora CPR instructors. From October 2018-March 2019, these instructors taught and certified 92 Spanish-speaking participants.

SWCBNews3“One of the biggest accomplishments of De Corazon is that the Promotoras themselves are not only bridging a gap in access to CPR, but they are also directly benefitting as community members,” says Marsh.

"When we teach and use our personal stories to describe why CPR is so important, I feel a deep connection with the student participants I am proudly teaching. This feeling is mutual, as the students are able to share with us about emergencies they have faced,” said Monica Perez, a Promotora graduate.

These Promotoras are reaching up to 12 participants each month at the South Park Information and Resource Center (SPIRC), and at least once of month outside of South Park with classes ranging from 12-20 participants.

For Swedish, this has been a very critical partnership because it has enabled the community health workers to expand their reach into the South Park and neighboring communities to support the Latinx community,” explained Pinky Herrera, Program Manager, Community Health Investment, Swedish Health Services - and Marsh’s partner in developing this concept. “We like knowing that many lives will be saved by having individuals with this specialized knowledge in our communities.”

SWCBNews6"Knowledge of CPR helped me save my infant granddaughter's life. It is thanks to the skill that she is now alive and well,” said Monica Duarte, another De Corazon CPR instructor. “I am glad I am now teaching others this life-saving skill, especially community members who would not have the access if De Corazon did not exist."

“I witnessed a tremendous sense of pride, joy and camaraderie among the women who completed, the training,” said Herrera.

Herrera and Marsh continue to seek ways to expand the program. “With every class the Promotoras teach they are ambassadors of this kind of community-based culturally and linguistically inclusive program,” says Marsh.

SWCBNews7In fact, Marsh believes that the Promotora De Corazon program could become a model for other communities seeking multicultural and multilingual access to CPR training. She says that it will take at least a year to examine the sustainability of this program before more formal conversations are planned with other community organizations such as the Somali Health Board or other African American or Asian organizations.

Swedish envisions a continuing partnership to help sustain the success of this program. For more information about the Promotora De Corazon Program contact SPIARC via their website or email Ellie at