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Someone You Should Know: Helping his community

Juan Perez is this week's "Someone You Should Know."
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 8:14 AM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Juan Perez has a first of a kind position in the Sanford Health system, as a community health worker.

“It got my attention to help my community. Especially the Spanish population. I’m a person who can connect patients to their needs. For example if their having a lack of insurance, food, housing, any of their needs. I’m here to help,” said Juan

“Worthington has a very culturally diverse community. You add on issues with transportation, and language barriers, and different cultural beliefs. And our health system in general is typically really hard to navigate,” said Christine Bullerman.

So Juan is there to for them, and he knows how tough it can be. Shortly after his family moved to Worthington eighteen years ago, his brother Danny, was diagnosed with cancer.

“Back in that day, we didn’t have the Cancer Center. So I remember my dad had to learn how to do the chemotherapy at home. It was like a process that I went through, and I think all of my family went through this hard time, and we learned,” said Juan.

Juan’s brother beat cancer. The 32-year old started the community health worker position in August, however he’s worked in the hospital the past five years as an interpreter.

“He’s gotten to know providers and patients, and they trust him. And often times what would happen is he would interpret for a patient during an appointment, and then after the appointment, the patient would pull him aside and say can you explain that further,” said Christine.

“They need someone who can help to understand what the doctor is going over for their health. There is only a few months that I started this position and I really enjoy it because I like to help people and when I see a happy face that I help with something that they need to connect. It can be like insurance, or any needs that I can see that I accomplished. I see them get happy, then I be happy too,” said Juan.

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