Problems broached for VNA, Comunidad |

Problems broached for VNA, Comunidad

Collin Smith

— Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association members met with Latinos in the community Tuesday in the VNA building for a panel discussion to assess the strengths and weaknesses health care providers in the area show in covering Latinos.

The group discussed what kind of health care was sought in Latino home countries, what challenges Latinos face to access health care here and how the VNA can provide that health care better.

VNA Health Educator Teresa Wright said this panel was necessary to ensure the health of local residents.

The Latino “population is growing,” Wright said. “There are health difficulties in this community, diabetes is high for instance, and this panel will help us know how to respond as health providers so that assumptions are not made.”

Maria Martin, Comunidad Integrada program coordinator, moderated the event, sometimes sharing her own experiences from growing up in Peru.

Latinos “who come here have a disparity with Caucasians because they can’t understand what the doctor is saying,” Martin said. “It’s even worse when their children are sick. They feel like they can’t help their children or themselves.”

Jo Ann Quade, who plans to start work with Comunidad Integrada, agreed language is a huge hindrance for immigrants.

“There really is nothing other than what Integrated Community is doing to help them,” Quade said.

VNA Supervisor/Home Visitor Ann Irvin bemoaned the fear keeping some immigrants away from needed health care.

“Some are too worried about getting in trouble to come to a hospital,” Irvin said. “I had a client that was afraid to walk a baby stroller down the street.”

VNA members found Latino immigrants interact mostly as Americans do. It is the kind of health care sought from doctors that is the biggest difference.

Although the Latino panel members said they rarely went to the doctor as kids in their home countries, they do now, mostly for their children.

One Latino panel member pointed out prenatal care was a big concern in her community. She was worried immigrants without papers would no longer qualify.

Latino panel members described the VNA as the best source for health care in the valley because of the attention visiting nurses give to their patients. They said people in their communities appreciate how respectful they are and that they do not mind working with a translator.

Language was said to be the biggest hurdle Latinos face to get quality health care, but cost also is a problem. Many Latinos new to the area do not have health insurance and are forced to go to the emergency room when seriously ill or injured.

Panel members agreed medical costs and insurance coverage affects all communities in the area.

The VNA provides free home health care to its patients, but high demand and not enough nurses can cause long delays in visits.

A Latino panel member recounted waiting five weeks for an appointment once, and said she knows to call three weeks in advance for vaccines for her children.

The VNA press release for the meeting also cited cervical cancer as being a high risk in Latino communities. Latino panel members said sex education in their home countries was minimal, and it focused mostly on female menstrual cycles and abstinence until marriage.

“That’s similar to sex education classes here,” Wright said.

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