Health fair takes aim at Latinos
Vida En El Valle
(Published Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 10:11AM)
When Isabel Flores was selected to be the coordinator to manage the Ventanilla de Salud (Health Window) at the Mexican Consulate in Sacramento two years ago, she knew that the Latino community would benefit.
"There are many Latinos with no health insurance. Throughout the year, we endeavor to find opportunities for them to go and have simple tests done so they can be more careful in the decisions they make regarding their health, since those decisions can affect them in a negative way if they don't are not taking a necessary measure of caution," said Flores, 29.
According to Flores, the Latino community is facing financial and social challenges when it comes to getting health information and education. In an effort to close that gap, last week, the Mexican Consulate in Sacramento held their first Annual Health Fair with workshops in preventive care for cervical and breast cancer. They also provided free HIV, blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar exams.
"There are many people that don't schedule their medical appointments regularly for many reasons, but the main one has to do with finances. Some others don't have medical insurance and most of them are just afraid to go to the doctor just in case they are asked about their legal status," said Flores, who also works for the Health Education Committee -- a non profit organization that launches campaigns aimed to better the well being of Latinos and their families.
In addition to the exams, all participants received information about nutrition and how to get medical and dental insurance with the help of local non-profit organizations, and private health providers.
The Health Fair is held once a month all year long to meet the needs of the community. About 150 people waited their turn in line for their free health exams.
Flores underscored the importance of these tests -- especially to prevent chronic illnesses that affect the Latino community, like obesity, hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes.
"If they don't go to the doctor, they can be sure that they will get the medical attention they need here at the consulate. Our greatest hope is that after they get their test results, if they want to talk more about it, they can go see their family doctor since they can diagnose them better knowing their family history, if needed," said Flores. "We don't give medical diagnosis here at the consulate. All we do is to make sure that they get their test results and hope they take the necessary measures."
Flores also noted that there are more people attending the health fair every month.
Most of them, like María López, 32, a resident of Sacramento -- want to know if they have diabetes.
"I came to have a test done to see what my blood sugar levels are," said López. "Diabetes runs in my family and I want to make sure that I am not at risk, because if I am, I will do my best to eat the right food so I don't get sick."
Alejandra Martínez, also lives in Sacramento and came to the Health Fair to learn more about how to get medical coverage for her children.
"I want medical coverage information for my children. Without a doubt I am in the right place because all the information I was looking for is here," said Martínez.