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Pandemic prompts fresh look at Latino health care needs

By September 6, 2021COVID-19

An interpreter at Rosa Health Center helped 55-year-old patient Griselda Vasquez, a native of Guatemala, describe her experiences. Vasquez’s husband lost his life to COVID-19 last year.

“It’s been very hard for her and her family. They don’t want to go through something like that again. That’s why when the vaccine came out, they immediately got vaccinated because they’re afraid. They got vaccinated for protection. They don’t want to live with a mask for the rest of their lives,” the interpreter said.

When people ask her about getting vaccinated, Vasquez encourages them to do so.

“A lot of people ask her why do I have to get vaccinated, and she explains that it’s important to protect themselves. Then they tell her there’s a lot of bad media about the vaccine, and she says, ‘Well, if that were true, a lot of more people would be dead, and she would be dead because she’s vaccinated.’ So she tries to encourage people to get vaccinated and see that not everything in the media is true,” the interpreter said.

Vasquez also recognizes the importance of routine checkups. Many in the Latino community are hesitant, especially women.

“There are a lot of different hidden towns or hidden villages that don’t show the women the importance of health care. So that when they are presented with this that they’ve never seen before. They get resistant to that until they learn that it’s necessary to keep you healthy,” she said through an interpreter.

Vasquez knows that firsthand, She benefited from a routine Pap smear that found fibroids and  a routine mammogram through which a cyst was discovered.

Peri, the Rosa Health Center doctor, provided a larger perspective on the vaccine and how ideology in the United States differed from other countries.

“I originally came from India, and in India thousands of people were dying and they did not have access to the vaccine as easily here. In this country, the government made sure there was a vaccine for every single person. The fact that there were a lot of people who didn’t want it, it’s hard for me to understand,” Peri said.

Currently, health care centers in Delaware are trying to engage the community about getting vaccinated. Rosa is working on a vaccine awareness video for the public, with people in the community who have been affected by COVID-19 offering their testimonials on the importance of vaccination.

“As a state, as a country, [it’s essential] to hang together to say, ‘All right, let’s do this and get vaccinated,’” Peri said. “And then you stop the virus dead. If everyone got vaccinated in the whole country in the next month, we would stop COVID dead in its tracks, and no one else would have to die.”

State Division of Public Health Director Rattay said the goal is to follow that up with other outreach.

“We’ve got to get back to some of our normal, routine health screenings and chronic care management approaches that are impacting people, and quite likely, our minority populations more, so that outreach isn’t just limited to COVID testing and vaccines.”

This article was produced with the support of a grant from the Delaware Community Foundation. For more information, visit https://www.delcf.org/journalism/  

There are several health care organizations in Sussex County that aim to serve residents who speak Spanish or languages other than English. They include:

La Red, http://www.laredhealthcenter.org/, (302) 855-1233 
– 21 W. Clarke Ave., Milford; 
– 300 High St., Seaford; 
– 21444 Carmean Way, Georgetown.

Rosa Healthcare Center, http://www.rosahealthcenter.org/, (302) 858-4381
– 10 N. Front St., Georgetown.


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