FLINT, MI – In 2019, 18.7% of the Hispanic population had no health insurance, compared to 6.3% of the non-Hispanic white population, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health. and social services.
Executive Director Asa Zuccaro of the Flint Latinx Technology and Community Center is fighting to improve those stats for Flint’s Latinx community.
On Saturday, April 2, the Latinx Center hosted the Evento Primaveral, a health fair featuring cultural music, food, games, activities, and information about local health resources.
“We always want to be strategic about how we engage with the community,” Zuccaro said. “Just knowing our culture, our community and our people on the east side, they have alarming health disparities. We want to make sure that we engage families in prevention and help them book those medical appointments. We want to make sure they have medical coverage and seek medical care.
In addition to the cultural festivities, participants had the opportunity to get vaccinated against the flu and COVID-19.
Zuccaro said event organizers partnered with students from the University of Michigan to help organize the event.
The health fair featured booths hosted by Hamilton Community Health Network, Health Alliance Plan, Catholic Charities, Crim Commit to Fit, Genesee Health System and Hurley Medical Center that offered information on physical, emotional and mental health.
“Coming from the hospital to outside the community is like going from the bedside to the sidewalk,” said Tarnesa Martin, a Hurley Medical Center nurse who attended the event. “A lot of changes are made in meeting rooms, but when you mobilize services for the community, our changes are made in corners, backyards, wherever the community is. The community can feel safe in their own environment and receive the information needed to be healthy.
Martin became emotional as she observed the large number of attendants at the health lounge, realizing that the information provided by Hurley Medical Center was only available in English.
“It was another revelation to have literature in Spanish,” she said. “Being able to communicate is key and I just want all areas of Flint covered.”
The communication barrier presents ongoing challenges to Flint’s Latinx population.
Early in the pandemic, local health departments did not provide vaccination or COVID-19 information in Spanish, prompting the Flint Latinx Technology and Community Center to offer translation services to providers and to the public, Zuccaro said.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health, Michigan’s Latinx population was 1.7 times more likely than other races to be diagnosed with diabetes, based on 2019 data and 2020, and has a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, depression and cancer.
“Personally, a lot of my family members have diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure,” said Zuccaro, who is Latinx. “I feel like I didn’t realize the importance of being physically active or eating healthy, or even seeing a doctor until more recently. It’s really great to be able to try to connect community members to health initiatives and show how important health is.
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine: Flint Area Medical Education was also part of the planning and driving force behind the event.
Joe Taranto, 27, a third-year medical student at MSU, and other college students played soccer with kids for the duration of the fair.
“We got called, a lot of our classmates were on the planning committee for this, and so they called us today and asked if any of us could come and help the kids and entertain them. “, said Tarantao. “I was told there would be a soccer field, so that’s what I was there for.
“It was a blast today. It was so fun to see them so excited about hitting the ball and it’s more fun trying to avoid the ball than trying to stop it.
Spanish music filled the air. Friends and families ate together and received essential information to help advance the overall health of Flint Latinx.
“It’s beautiful to see how many people came out and had fun today,” Zuccaro said. “I love the positive feedback and I love that everyone enjoys the food, the event and the atmosphere.”
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