In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau reported only about 42 percent of Hispanics in the country were visiting the doctor’s office each year.
While that report uses a general brush to paint a broad spectrum five years ago, the trend of Latinos and Mexican immigrants visiting doctors for preventative healthcare is similar due to several factors according to Ventanilla de Salud Program Coordinator Adriana Buelna.
Ventanilla de Salud is a program coordinated through the Mexican government aimed at providing services and information to Mexicans living in the U.S.
On Tuesday at Pioneers Memorial Hospital in Brawley, Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District CEO Larry Lewis, district President Jeffery S. Klicka and Consulate of Mexico in Calexico Carlos Flores Vizcarra signed a memorandum of understanding to provide information and services to that Latino and Mexican population living in the northend of the Imperial Valley.
“If they have any questions about health, we educate them, we empower them, we inform them about the resources available,” said Buelna in Spanish. “More so, the objective is to work to inform them on the preventative health care available to them.”
PMHD and Ventanilla de Salud already worked in collaboration, providing information at health resource fairs throughout the county. The MOU will allow them to expand the services and information to the northend community.
“Together we’re going to set the tone and the message, ‘don’t wait to come to the ER,’ we have services available,” said Frank Salazar, PMHD director of communications and public affairs. “That’s the message that we’re taking together, preventative care for the Latino community.”
Salazar said they will focus on Calipatria, Westmorland, Niland and West Shores.
“Those are the communities that we need to reach out to as well because they need the resources,” Salazar said.
Klicka added the MOU falls in line with the services the district is trying to provide for the community.
“When this was brought to our full board it was a no-brainer. It is the right thing to do and it finds in with what we’re trying to do along with (affiliations with Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego and Scripps Health Network), improve the quality of health care and this is a big step,” Klicka said. “We’re very excited.”
Lewis said this will further help outreach. “Part of our community is not always reached in traditional ways and this is something, I think, is going to allow us to reach out to places we haven’t set up fair and information booths before and will allow us to see more people,” he said. “I think that population out there needs to be cared for very early on, it’s the direction Pioneers wants to head.”
A healthier community benefits everyone said Buelna.
“We believe a healthy community is a strong community and as parents we have to pass on that culture to our children, to have healthier lifestyles and know what resources are available in the Imperial County,” Buelna said.