A Helping Hand for Latinx Community in Healthcare

Our 12th graders at Common Ground have been working on their senior capstone projects since September! Each student chose a topic they’re passionate about to research and take action on. One of our seniors, Leslie Lopez, focused on expanding access to healthcare resources in the Latinx community. Leslie’s topic covered UN Sustainable Development Global Goal number 3, to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, with a closer concentration on Target 3.8, to achieve universal health coverage for all. Read more about her project and the organizations that Leslie learned about, through her research, below!

My name is Leslie Lopez and for my Senior Environmental Justice Capstone course, we are required to create a project that could help the community around us. For my senior project I decided to focus on advocacy to help those in the Latinx community have access to healthcare they deserve. I selected this topic because I plan to pursue a career as a Labor/Delivery Nurse or NICU nurse. Learning and sharing about organizations that work to serve marginalized groups can help my community but also serve as resources for me to better help those I will work with once in my career. 

To select a topic, we first reviewed the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. From those goals, I selected Global Goal 3, Good Health and Well-Being, realizing universal health coverage for all people, including protection from financial risk, access to quality essential medical services, and access to vital medicines and vaccinations that are reliable, efficient, high-quality, and reasonably priced. With such a large goal, I decided to focus on the Latinx population, because discrimination and bias can impact the type of treatment that Latinx individuals receive when trying to access health insurance coverage and medical care. Often those from this community are misunderstood or identified as the most at-risk ethnic group for a certain disease based on their lifestyle. As a result, their access to medical care is significantly worse for them.  During my research, I came across a study that interviewed over 300 young adult Latinos and they found “nearly 40% of those interviewed said that they had experienced health care discrimination, such as being prevented from access services; being hassled; or being made to feel inferior in some way” (Daniel Lopez-Cevallos & Marie Harvey, 2015).  

Throughout my research I discovered a number of organizations in New Haven that work to make Latinx families feel as important as any citizens should: 


Project Access New Haven – For underserved people in the Greater New Haven region, Project Access-New Haven improves access to healthcare and services. Their hard-working, compassionate and multicultural (English/Spanish) staff members collaborate directly with each patient to organize medical care, remove obstacles to access, and provide cultural awareness to educate and support. Their assistance is intended to help patients navigate the healthcare system with it including in scheduling/reminders into coordinating services to remove barriers into receiving their patients care, ensuring that medical information and instructions are understood, facilitating the implementation of hospitalization and treatment plans. 

Haven Free ClinicTo act as a sustainable free clinic that offers primary care, wellness instruction, and support in obtaining healthcare to uninsured persons in New Haven. The students started formulating a strategy for creating a viable, student-run free clinic in New Haven. They sought assistance from many already-established local clinics for the project and were thrilled to work at the Fair Haven Community Health Center. For appointments for specialist care, they treat patients holistically, assisting with a range of concerns such as medical debt, medical insurance, food insecurity, etc., as well as other social programs like English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. 

Yale Children’s Hispanic Clinic/The Hispanic ClinicFor families with young children ages 0 to 12 months, the Yale Children’s Hispanic Clinic provides primary care that is both culturally and dialectically competent. This program offers completely bilingual pediatric clinical care for children and their parents while integrating language and cultural competence into residency training. 

In addition, the monolingual Latino community in the greater New Haven area has received outpatient mental health and addiction services from the Hispanic Clinic. The bilingual and multilingual clinic staff reflects the variety of Latino cultural traditions. Clients may refer themselves or be referred by neighborhood community organizations or medical facilities. 

Hispanic Health CouncilThe Hispanic Health Council is a statewide, nationally renowned community-based organization with the goal of enhancing the health and social well-being of Latinos and other underrepresented groups. The support and ideals put them in a special position to influence social determinants of health at both the individual and community levels, as well as the altar unfair systems and laws that make it difficult for various groups to achieve optimal health and well-being. Also noteworthy is the fact that the bulk of their staff members are bilingual Spanish and are proficient readers and writers. Although the one downside of it is the fact that it’s in a different location, it’s in Hartford.

Junta For Progressive ActionJunta is committed to removing barriers by taking a whole-person approach to service delivery and participation in community improvements. Through direct assistance and educational resources, the paradigm creates socioeconomic security, resulting in dramatic improvements for both the individual and the community. They provide assistance with things like diaper delivery services, which are crucial to the Latinx and immigrant population in New Haven because the pandemic has made it more difficult for low-income families to find and be able to afford diapers. 

Congratulations, Leslie, on your impactful Senior Project and your graduation! We know you will continue to have a positive impact on expanding access to healthcare for your community!


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