Neighborhood Services News
The Latino community talks health
Health is not necessarily something people want to talk openly about in a public setting, but it is one of the biggest issues affecting communities today. But that was exactly what happened the evening of August 8th at César Chávez Elementary School as members of the Latino community gathered for a conversation hosted by LINC and Blue Cross Blue Shield – “Let’s Talk Health Latino Michigan.”
More than 200 community members, families, and kids gathered for a community conversation about what health issues were most relevant to them. BCBS wanted to get a real picture of what is important to the Latinos in West Michigan, and there is no better way to do that than to hear straight from the community.
After dinner and a chance to visit booths from various health stakeholders, attendees broke up into seven focus groups. These groups then worked from a list of five areas to targets which were the most important to them, and to brainstorm ideas of how these areas could be improved. The target areas covered everything from access to affordable health care to prenatal disparities. Each group had lively discussions about what mattered most.
Many groups focused in on the lack of proper food in their neighborhoods. In one group, a member pointed out that the cost of health care was a deterrent to even seeing a doctor.
“You go to a doctor to get a flu shot, and you come out with a bill for $800. I’ll take my chances with the flu,” said he said.
After an hour and a half of discussion and debate, the focus groups voted on what the most crucial issues were to them and presented to the full crowd. The bi-lingual presentations showed the similarities in what was vital to them, and showed where stakeholders could best focus their efforts.
The next step for Blue Cross Blue Shield is to take the information and create a report, so the community members can see their efforts and all organizations that serve the Latino community will have access to this information.
For LINC, this was another great opportunity to ensure underserved populations like the Latino community have the space to speak about key issues and decisions that affect them. The meeting, like many other LINC events, was about connecting people to opportunity and being part of the true efforts for system change.
The aim of “Let’s Talk Health Latino Michigan” was to get the facts from the community so that BCBS, LINC, and other partners could better understand the Latino community’s priorities and from there create programs that suit their needs – and it was a success.
LINC Community Revitalization, Inc. works to affect change holistically in historically underserved communities. LINC aligns people, places, and linkages through a variety of channels including neighborhood engagement, economic development, real estate development, and coaching and training resources for residents.