Some Clark County Latinos report lack of access to medical care

The survey was conducted by Welcome Springfield with assistance from the Clark County Combined Health District. The result were released at a meeting of the Clark County Latino Health Initiative on Thursday at the Rocking Horse Community Health Center.

More than 500 surveys were distributed and 156 were completed.

The survey, paid for by a $15,000 grant from CareSource, was given to those who attend Spanish-speaking churches or work in places with large clusters of Latinos. It doesn’t reflect Latinos who have lived here for many generations, Welcome Springfield Director Carl Ruby said.

He wanted more participants but said it was hard to get people to complete the survey due to language barriers and a fear of consequences.

“I was hoping for more, but this gave us the ability to draw some strong conclusions,” Ruby said.

About 73 percent reported good, very good or excellent health. But about 30 percent also said they may have illnesses and have never spoken to a doctor about them, including depression, high blood pressure or diabetes.

About 84 percent reported they don’t have health insurance and 83 percent don’t have a personal doctor. About 87 percent of respondents said they were unable to see a doctor, including because of a lack of money or inability to find a doctor who spoke their language.

The group plans to find ways to add more bilingual health care providers, better mental health services and more access to Spanish brochures on health issues in places where Latinos gather. They’ll begin to devise a strategic plan early next year, Ruby said.

“We need to transition from talking about (the problems) to developing some solutions,” Ruby said.

About a third of the respondents made less than $10,000 per year and about a quarter of them made between $10,000 and $15,000 annually. The majority lived in Springfield’s southeast quadrant and New Carlisle.

About 63 percent of respondents have a child younger than 18 in their home, according to the survey.

“This is a very at-risk population in terms of all the things related to population,” Ruby said. “It shows how vulnerable this population is.”

Of the 99 who answered the final question about their immigration status, 61 percent were undocumented and 21 percent had green cards.

Domestic violence also was reported as an issue for 17 percent of survey participants and only 20 percent knew where to get help. They also plan to better promote Project Woman to the Spanish-speaking community.

Expanding access to Spanish brochures with contact information for local health and domestic violence agencies will direct Latinos to some form of help, Springfield resident Monserrate Salas said.

“Language is a great barrier here,” Salas said. “Everything is written in English. Even though you have a Hispanic population that you can see, nothing is really translated. It’s going to help.”

She attended the meeting with her husband, Pastor Jose Salas of the Emmanuel Hispanic Church, 454 E. Main St. The results weren’t surprising, she said, because they see it on a day-to-day basis.

The results are similar to those compiled by the Springfield City School District, said Lourdes Narvaez, the district’s Hispanic outreach program director. The language barrier and lack of trust keeps people from seeking medical care, she said.

“If they’re undocumented, they’re afraid to go to any office, especially government agencies,” Narvaez said. “It’s a matter of building trust.”

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