Community clinics struggle getting Latinos into preventative healthcare
Doctors, community leaders and health advocates have long struggled to get Latinos preventative healthcare. Our community is less likely to have health insurance and more likely to face language barriers, poverty and cultural issues. Advocates that focus on helping Latinos get regular access to a doctor, which is critical for preventative healthcare and management of chronic conditions, are searching for new ways to engage the community.
Latinos United of Carroll County health clinic
The Latinos United of Carroll County is a community organization that helps Hispanics in Georgia with immigration, education and health. Around 2002, board member Dr. Evangelio Gonzalez, took a tour of the local Latino community and decided he had to do something to help improve their health.
He approached the Housing Authority and asked them for an apartment in a Latino neighborhood. They gave LUCC an apartment for free, and Dr. Gonazalez was able to set up a small clinic.
By 2008, the LUCC clinic was able to move from the apartment into a house also provided by the Housing Authority for free. Today, the Tanner Health System provides a full-time nurse practictioner and the LUCC clinic sees about 100 patients a week. The clinic helps a large number of insurned people .
Getting Latinos prevenative care
Like other clinics and healthcare professionals, LUCC has not been successful in getting the Latino community to turn out for preventative healthcare or education related events. As a result, they have started to integrate health screenings into their immigration events which typically have better attendance.
"For Latino health, the financial obstacles for patients is the biggest problem. But we haven’t been good at prevention. We have three or four that come for our prevention classes. The classes that help them to manage their disease they don’t come" said Gyla Gonzalez, Executive Director of LUCC.
Some prevention efforts are proving popular with the community. LUCC with the help of Tanner Health drives 10 women to get free mammograms. A service that fills up quickly and LUCC struggles to maintain.
"Social media has helped us with outreach tremendously. A lot of people have started to come to our parking lot Zumba classes" said Gyla Gonzalez.
LUCC believes healthcare is essential to strengthing families and tries to incorporate it into their broad array of services and outreach as much as possible.
Barriers to prevenative care for Latinos
For LUCC and other community clinics the biggest barriers are money and community participation. It is often hard for nonprofit clinics to collaborate with other healthcare organizations because many are for-profit or under-resourced themselves. Many of their services are offered either free or at deeply discounted prices so that price is not a barrier to access. A blessing for patients, but the lack of financial resources makes it hard for the clinic to expand services or the number of patients it serves.
Community clinics rely on volunteers to help stay operational. Providing healthcare to underserved communities is complex and requires a lot of communication, logistical and medical support because there are patients that use these clinics for all their healthcare needs. A task these small clinics are often not equipped for.
For patients, the lack of Spanish speaking doctors that understand the Latino experience has proven to be a big barrier especially for immigrant families.
Spanish speaking bicultural doctors needed
About half of Latinos report they have a friend or family member that needs a Spanish speaking doctor, and about 30% have friends or family worried about their legal status. Having a doctor that speaks Spanish helps, but having a doctor that understands both the cultural and language helps Latinos make signficant healthcare gains.
Unfortunately, just 6% of doctors are Latino and an additional 2% of non-Latino doctors speak Spanish. This is a contributing factor to why Latinos don't seek prevenative healthcare as often as other communities.
The communication gap is exacerbated by the complexity of our healthcare system. Half of Latinos say healthcare in the U.S. is somewhat or very hard.
Without Dr. Evangelio Gonzalez there would be no LUCC clinic. Addressing this issue is why I became a doctor. The struggles of today's Latino family are the struggles my family went through when I was a child.
I've learned a lot since opening my own clinic and seen first hand how a bilingual, bicultural Latina doctor can impact a family without breaking the bank. It's been a steep learning curve. Medical professionals like Dr. Gonzalez and the stories of my patients inspire me to expand my reach to help more people.
Treating Patients, the Way I Treat My Abuelita
As a kid, I saw firsthand how families struggled accessing healthcare and finding a bilingual doctor. I founded Prickly Pear Family Medicine because healthcare shouldn't be a privilege and everyone should have a doctor in the family.
Get in touch, let's get together & talk about your health
As a doctor, only spending 10 minutes with a patient doesn't cut it. That's not the way I practice medicine. Patient visits at my clinic are always unrushed. I'm looking to earn your trust, not the blessing of an insurance company.