A group of three nursing students at Salt Lake Community College have teamed up to improve health care for Hispanics and Latinos.
Rebecca Allan, Nancy Gough and Ashley Wanke worked together throughout the semester to compile a booklet which can help the Hispanic population find better options for health care. They not only spent time researching, but also practiced their skills at the Maliheh Free Clinic, a clinic in Salt Lake City dedicated to giving quality, free health care to those who might otherwise not have it.
“These three students wanted to work with me on going a little deeper and further into the health care practices and priorities and concerns of the Latino/Hispanic population as well as the disparities of health care,” said Peggy Stevens, instructor and mentor to Allan, Gough and Wanke.
Part of the effort was inspired by attending the 2011 Tanner Forum on Social Ethics, where actor Edward James Olmos was the keynote speaker. The inspired community activist made a point in reaching out to the community, to, “give more to the community than we get back.”
“We need to appreciate and honor those who have helped our country be the country it is,” Stevens said. “With specifics to health care, we need to make sure that we’re culturally sensitive and meeting the needs of all the people in our country, because we’re kind of a melting pot country, and we need to work at helping all peoples. Not that we aren’t, but we need to have more knowledge, be more sensitive to their needs.”
From this presentation, the students gained enlightenment in helping other ethnic groups living in Utah. One of the first steps was seeing the differences in health between Hispanics, Latinos and other ethnic groups.
“Hispanics have lower mortality rates than the overall population but are at greater risk for a number of chronic illnesses and diseases,” the National Alliance for Hispanic Health explained in 2004. “Hispanic populations exhibit many positive health indicators in terms of diet, low levels of smoking, and illicit drug use, and strong family structure. However, the longer each generation resides in this country, the more these positive indicators deteriorate.”
Another key factor is the different cultural practices that take place. Allan, Gough and Wanke were able to see and understand the different beliefs and remedies for health care that Hispanics and Latinos use. It is important to be sensitive to such folk practices, but also be mindful of the health care needed.
Some other key difficulties with Hispanic and Latino health care include lack of information about health system, gender differences, provider insensitivity, continuity of care, language barrier and prevention. However, the most influential part is the cost.
“Hispanic/Latino populations are among the poorest ethnic group in the USA which contributes to a disparity of access to healthcare due to the inability to pay for it,” explains a poster that was made as part of the students’ project.
The booklet compiled by these students gives the Hispanic and Latino population information on cheaper and reliable resources. It consists of about 20 different sections of health care needed. These include health clinics, prescription drug services, substance abuse treatment resources and more. It also has listings for emergency shelters, food and clothing assistance and dental services.
The efforts of these students provide a better, easier way for information to be available.
“The sacred responsibility of helping to heal all Americans has become their [our] priority,” Stevens said.