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Tiffany Y. Latt

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Clark County Latino Health Care Initiative Established

09/29/2015 05:00PM | 5779 views

A new Clark County Hispanic/Latino Health Initiative has been established to improve access to quality medical care for the growing Latino community.

Welcome Springfield, a local immigrant advocacy group, in conjunction with the Clark County Combined Health District and Community Health Partnership, was awarded a $15,000 grant from CareSource Foundation in January. The groups applied for funds to conduct a health assessment and develop a network of doctors who can address health needs or barriers to medical care, said Carl Ruby, Welcome Springfield’s executive director.

The initiative is a response to the grant Welcome Springfield received and is a collaboration of officials from Springfield City School District, Community Mercy Health Partners, Rocking Horse Community Health Center, the health department and other health and social services agencies.

“We’re going to begin by assessing the health needs of Latino families of Clark County,” Ruby said. “Our primary focus is going to be on trying to improve access to quality health care.

“Part of it is educating the Latino community on what resources are available to them,” he continued. “There are lots of resources at Rocking Horse Center that many members of the Latino community haven’t been aware of. Trying to make more people aware that adult health care is available there, that dental care is coming. It’s not just a pediatric facility.”

Clark County’s population of Latino residents is between 4,000-7,000, Ruby said.

Ruby has said officials suspect that Latino faces challenges in the area of health coverage, from language barriers to transportation needs to health insurance.

“We suspect that almost the entire population probably doesn’t have access to health coverage,” Ruby said.

In addition to access to health care, the one-year project will survey how prevalent chronic health issues such as obesity, diabetes, preventable diseases and behavioral health issues such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol addiction are in the immigrant community.

Officials will collect data through October and then analyze the information they have received, he said.

Anita Biles, a health educator for the health district, said the group will look at data from the survey to determine how to close the gap on health needs for the Hispanic/Latino population.

“Any time when you’re working with any minority population, there’s always a discrepancy when it comes to health-related issues,” Biles said. “We have that in African American issues. There’s just a discrepancy in preventative medication.

“We have a growing population in Clark County of Hispanic families — documented and undocumented — and we want to make sure that we’re getting information to them on what needs there are and what needs can be met through either the Rocking Horse, the health department or out in New Carlisle they have a health and wellness center.”

The initiative also works with various groups to help agencies eliminate language barriers.

Joan Elders, program coordinator for Community Health Foundation, said the initiative allows officials from various organizations to share information and work together to address some of the barriers facing the Latino population.

“Language is one piece of it. Having this initiative is also helping us understand the cultural differences that people from different Spanish-speaking countries bring to our community,” Elders said.

Welcome Springfield works to improve the lives of immigrants and to enable them to help develop the economy in Clark County. The organization does so by trying to improve five different areas that result in immigrants being more productive: education, health, access to justice, economic development and culture and the arts.

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