I was fortunate to attend the Healthcare Georgia Foundation “Connections2014” conference a few days ago. The event offered an overview of where we stand in terms of access, cost and quality of healthcare as well as addressed specific and relevant topics such as the implementation of the ACA, Program Sustainability, Health Policy, Successful Partnerships & Collaborations, etc.
URGENCY to act, to advocate, to coalesce, to understand the main issues, constraints and impact the current situation of healthcare in our Georgia has in all of our families and children. To make it better. There is no other choice. Not with the latest data and information.
Take for example the recently released “Race for Results Index” report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showing how children are progressing on key milestones across racial and ethnic groups at the national and state level. Hispanic, American-Indian and Black children have the lowest scores across the US but especially in the South. (you can access the report HERE)
It is clear (and the conference presentations confirmed it) that the best approach to improve access and quality of healthcare is to develop solutions that see health as part of a social system with many players, variables and stakeholders; including schools, homes, family structure, access to social services (WIC/SNAP, etc), literacy level, etc
Education, housing, race and zipcode are social determinants for health (with education being a direct predictor), so we should consider and improve all of them if we want to make a real and long-lasting impact.
A collaboration/program of this magnitude is a challenge; and is especially difficult for our Latino community that unfortunately does not have an organization yet that represents the collective voices of smaller/niche health non-profits serving the Hispanic population in the state.
Like Carmen Garcia, Coordinator for the “Lifiting Latina Voices Initiative” said: “For our community, reproductive issues are not a top priority, our women are worried about feeding their children, about being able to drive to work, about access to education, about learning English so they can get a job. We need an organized coalition to lead with an strategic and clear vision so that we can provide comprehensive programs and solutions”
Some organizations are doing their part to ensure health coverage for under insured and uninsured individuals like Advocates for Responsible Care (ARxC) and their Dialysis Crisis Program. Others, have started expanding their services to offer more integrated services such as nutrition programs & health fairs (like CETPA) and Chatham County, increasing their outreach bilingual services. The Latin American Association is also hiring a new position (Director of Advocacy) that should help fill some of that leadership void.
Also interesting to note are interesting partnerships and collaborations taking place that WILL benefit and increase access to services to our community; take for example Walgreens and the Eastside Medical Center in Gwinnett; no doubt they will serving many Latinos there as well the amazing collaboration between several organization benefiting Georgia Farm Workers (our “Spotlight” on the May newsletter issue).
Our community has specific needs and limitations that need representation at the table were and when decision are being made. It is our right and responsibility. After all, the majority of us, Latino residents in GA (58% adults and 87% of children) ARE American citizens.
I leave you with a two videos that shows the Georgia Farmworker Health Project and the SEGCP. A collaboration in which the social service arm (the Southeast Georgia Communities Project- SEGCP) not only leads the coalition but also works to acquire and provide interpreters, trains Health Promoters, provides cultural sensitivity workshops, establishes pre-natal & HIV education projects, offers a legal assistance program and even a radio show to serve in an integrated manner their population.