Flint fair focuses on balancing healthcare inequality for Latinx residents – MLive.com

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Latinx Technology and Community Center hosts Evento Primaveral
FLINT, MI — In 2019, 18.7% of the Hispanic population didn’t have health insurance, compared to 6.3% of the non-Hispanic, white population, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.
Executive Director Asa Zuccaro of the Flint Latinx Technology and Community Center is fighting to improve those statistics for the Latinx community in Flint.
On Saturday, April 2, the Latinx Center hosted the Evento Primaveral, a health fair providing cultural music, food, games, activities and information about local health resources.
“We always want to be strategic on how we engage with the community,” Zuccaro said. “Just knowing our culture, community and our east side population, they have alarming health disparities. We want to make sure we’re engaging families in prevention and helping (them) make those medical appointments. We want to make sure they have healthcare coverage and they’re seeking medical attention.”
In addition to the cultural festivities, attendees were offered the opportunity to receive flu and COVID-19 vaccines.
Zuccaro said the event organizers partnered with University of Michigan students to help organize the event.
The health fair featured booths hosted by the Hamilton Community Health network, Health Alliance Plan, Catholic Charities, Crim Commit to Fit, Genesee Health System, and Hurley Medical Center that offered information related to physical, emotional and mental health.
Tarnesa Martin, RN, BRN, Hurley Medical Center’s Patient Resource and Community Advocate, provides health care resource information during the Latinx Technology & Community Center Evento Primaveral [Spring Event] on Saturday, April 2, 2022 in Flint. “Coming from the hospital to outside in the community, is like we went from the bedside to the curbside,” said Martin. “A lot of changes are made in the boardrooms, but when you mobilize services for the community our changes are made on the corners, the backyards, wherever the community is located. The community can feel safe in their own environment and receive information that is necessary for them to be healthy.” (Jenifer Veloso | MLive.com)Jenifer Veloso
“Coming from the hospital to outside in the community, is like we went from the bedside to the curbside,” said Tarnesa Martin, a nurse with Hurley Medical Center who attended the event. “A lot of changes are made in the boardrooms, but when you mobilize services for the community our changes are made on the corners, the backyards, wherever the community is located. The community can feel safe in their own environment and receive information that is necessary for them to be healthy.”
Martin grew emotional as she observed the large number of attendants at the health fair realizing that the information provided by Hurley Medical Center was only available in English.
“This was another eye opener to have literature in Spanish,” she said. “Being able to communicate is key and I just want all areas of Flint to be covered.”
The communication barrier presents ongoing challenges to Flint’s Latinx population.
During the start of the pandemic, local health departments didn’t provide vaccination or COVID-19 information in Spanish, prompting the Flint Latinx Technology and Community Center to offer translation services to providers and 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 and 2020 data, and is at higher risk for heart disease, obesity, depression and cancer.
“Personally, a lot of my family members have diabetes, cardiac disease, and high blood pressure,” said Zuccaro, who is Latinx. “I feel like I didn’t become mindful or aware of how important it is to be physically active or to eat healthy, and even to seek medical attention until more recently. It’s really great to be able to try to connect community members with health initiatives and show how important health is.”
Michigan State University’s College of Human Medicine: Flint Area Medical Education was also part of the planning and driving force of the event.
Joe Taranto, 27, a MSU third year medical student and other university students played soccer with kids for the duration of the fair.
Katherine Delgado, 2, plays soccer with third year MSU medical student Joe Taranto, 27, during the Latinx Technology & Community Center Evento Primaveral [Spring Event] on Saturday, April 2, 2022 in Flint. (Jenifer Veloso | MLive.com)Jenifer Veloso
“We were called in, a lot of our classmates were part of the planning committee for this, and so they called us today and asked if any of us could come by and help with the kids and keep them entertained,” Tarantao said. “I was told there would be a soccer field, so I was here for that.
“It’s been a blast today. It’s been so much fun to see them so excited to kick the ball and it’s more fun to try and avoid the ball than stop the ball.”
Spanish music filled the air. Friends and families ate together and were provided essential information to help further advance Flint’s Latinx overall health.
“It’s beautiful to see the number of people that came out and are enjoying themselves today,” said Zuccaro. “I love the positive feedback and I love that everybody’s enjoying the food and the event and the atmosphere.”
Read more on MLive.com:
Flint investors hosting ‘Next Up’ competition to give away food truck
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