History of Latino Health in Durham
By: Andrea Mendoza
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Latinos make up nearly 15% of Durham County, around 32,000 people. In 2013, Durham County published a health report that revealed that Hispanic Durham County residents are much less likely to have health insurance than non-Hispanic white or black residents. Approximately 52% of Hispanic residents are uninsured, in comparison to 18% of black residents, and 15% of white ones. This could perhaps be due to several factors including undocumented status, high cost of insurance plans, health literacy, and language barriers. However, the Durham community is working to bridge the gap between Latinos and health care. For instance, Durham Health Innovations has created a committee to focus on helping Spanish-speaking residents with different health services they may need.
Another example is El Centro Hispano, a non-profit organization established in 1992, dedicated to serving and strengthening the local Latino community. El Centro provides health education and prevention on topics such as diabetes, nutrition, and HIV. Additionally, they host a health fair that brings a number of agencies to help assist over 2,000 people within the community through the use of fun health activities and provide health screenings. El Centro participates in LATCH (Local Access to Coordinated Healthcare), and PESA (Promoviendo Estado Saludable), which educate members of the Latino community about services for people who lack health insurance, and healthy dietary and exercise habits respectively.
The non-profit organization El Futuro aims to serve the Latino population’s mental health needs, and believes in prevention and education through the use of outreach in the community. The staff of El Futuro is a group of bilingual of psychiatrists, social workers, and community leaders. Education materials for patients are available in Spanish and English. Furthermore, immigration status and insurance status do not affect the care a patient receives.
Another organization that serves the Latino community is the Lincoln Community Health Center. Latinos comprise nearly 35% of the patients served by LCHC, approximately 14,000 patients. The staff consists of a bilingual case manager as well as a bilingual psychiatrist to specifically cater to the needs of the Latino community. LCHC’s mission is to provide culturally competent, high quality healthcare for vulnerable populations, which is also affordable and accessible. LCHC provides a wide array of services, such as STI screenings and other lab testing, and works to improve access to care for people with substance abuse and mental health problems.
Welcome Baby provides infant and child development education for mothers through weekly classes, discussion groups, informational pamphlets, books, and videos. Welcome Baby does not exclusively help Spanish speaking moms, but by having all of their services be available in Spanish, they have allowed for Latina women to be included as well.
Duke University has also been involved in helping the Latino community in Durham. Through Project H.E.A.L., (Health Education and Awareness in Latin America), Duke students help to educate people in the Durham community on health topics like dental health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS awareness, and even family planning.