Hispanics at Home: Healthcare
Health care is an expensive necessity that isn’t always accessible for everyone.
In Elkhart County a group faces even more obstacles because of language barriers, cultural differences, and legal status.
“They feel alone here missing their family missing their culture missing their food missing the smells,” says Liliana Quintero the Director of the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition.
Moving to a new country isn’t easy and money is often tight.
“They start having two or three jobs because they realize that saving is not that easy,” says Quintero.
Managing a new environment starts to take a toll.
“Eating fast food, drive through, and frozen food, and lack of exercise here you are dependent of a car,” says Quintero.
Quintero understands the health hardships faced by the Latino community.
“all that combination of lack of physical activity and bad health eating habits is a bad combination for chronic diseases,”
She’s from Colombia and for the last 10 years has worked with the Northern Indiana Hispanic Health Coalition.
“It is our goal and our mission to make sure that no matter what their status they at least get a screening on a regular basis,”
Without a social security number, social services can’t be accessed.
In Elkhart County, just over 22.2% of Hispanics have high blood pressure, 13.2% have been diagnosed with diabetes and over 75% are considered obese.
Without the proper paperwork, their illnesses and issues go unchecked.
“Our goal is to help them get out of that vicious cycle how can we help them to get out of there by offering health screenings,” says Quintero.
The Health Coalition provides free screenings as a preventative measure but that comes with limitations.
When serious ailments are found there aren’t many health clinics that provide affordable care and translators.
“We take care of the undeserved and the underrepresented. There is no sticker shock when they get home for the most part,” says Martina McGowan a Physician at Heart City Health Center.
At Heart City Health Center in Elkhart services are based on income and flexible payment options are also available.
“We have several ways of interpreting for the patients just like our regular patients demographic our staff is also 1/3 Latino,” says McGowan.
With 30 percent of their patients being Latino interpreters are on staff.
McGowan says the clinic also offers a plan better than the alternative.
“They are left otherwise with urgent care or emergency rooms visit which we discourage because those ten to be more expensive,” says McGowan.
Emergency room visits can be especially expensive for the uninsured.
In 2015 IU Health Goshen saw 9,500 uninsured patients, 19% of them being Latino.
Over the past 10 years IU Health Goshen has seen an increase in bad debt numbers.
In 2015 IU Health Goshen saw more than $21 million in unpaid bills.
Meaning places like the Health Coalition and heart city health not only affect the patients they see but all of Elkhart County.
“No matter what their status I think everybody has to work in prevention so we can guarantee we have a productive community,” says Quintero.
An IU Health Goshen Rep says the hospital is doing their part to work with the Latino community. They provide Spanish speaking financial advocates to work with families to find a way to pay hospital bills.