St. University to host Latino healthcare summit
Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent
E. Lansing: Michigan State University will play host to a
day-long summit on how to improve the health and healthcare
issues among Michigan’s Latino population on Fri., March 21,
2014, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the university’s
Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.
The Julian Samora Research Institute (JSRI) is partnering
with MI ALMA to host the summit, which will begin with a
networking period set aside for participants to meet each other
over coffee and a light breakfast.
“We want to create a broad awareness of the issues that Latinos
face in the health arena,” said
Rubén Martínez, Ph.D.,
director of the Julian Samora Research Institute. “This is
really a summit to bring people together, primarily leaders in
healthcare, Latino community leaders, and so forth to learn
about the issues and network with each other to establish ties
to each other to see if we can move forward in some key areas.”
Some Latino-oriented healthcare issues remain a problem despite
decades of knowledge that such barriers exist. Language barriers
and cultural competence are two of the biggest.
“There is the cultural issue that works on both sides of the
equation: the biggest one is the medical providers oftentimes
not having the cultural competence to be able to address the
communications issues with the patient effectively. Too many
times that’s a barrier,” he said.
Data collection about Latino health issues is another problem,
according to Dr. Martínez. Little is known about the overall
health of Latinos living in Michigan, because the Behavioral
Risk Factor Survey (BRFS) that is used by the Centers for
Disease Control (CDC) and many state/county health departments
lacks enough Latino-based data to draw conclusions and map a
statewide or even local strategy. The executive director of Ann
Arbor-based Casa Latina will do a presentation on
Encuesta Buenos Vecinos, a health survey of Latinos
conducted in Washtenaw County.
“At the statewide level here, we have an office that has to do a
special study to increase the number of Latinos in their survey
to be able to get a sense of what the issues are,” said Dr.
Martínez. “That’s done every three years. At the local level, we
haven’t had enough Latinos included in the survey to be able to
say we know what the Lansing-area Latinos have as primary health
concerns and issues.”
While healthcare access and affordability remain challenges,
there is some movement forward in those arenas for Michigan
“We know the status of insurance coverage is going to change
among Latinos by virtue of the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr.
Martinez. “Michigan is one of the states that went ahead and
expanded Medicare coverage.”
Two presentations on the Affordable Care Act are planned,
including a question-and-answer session. One other session will
provide examples of how to connect Latinos to local resources in
the treatment of diabetes. John Hernandez of the Adrian-based
Hispanics of Lenawee Alliance will lead that discussion.
“We’re not going to solve them all in one day, but I think by
creating awareness, the objective is to get people interested in
becoming more engaged in addressing the issues that are raised,”
he said. “We’re very excited about this. We’re beginning to, as
a group of concerned Latinos in the state, we’re very excited
about moving forward with examining key issues that were
identified by some key Latino leaders in some earlier summits
and we’re tackling them one-by-one. We hope to have some impact
in terms of policy, because policy oftentimes is the driver for
The summit’s organizers hope to find Latino leaders willing to
take some of those policy issues forward to the Michigan state
legislature for possible action. The institute has sponsored
similar summits in the past on general Latino issues and
education. There are plans to hold another one next year on
entrepreneurship and business ownership.
The Michigan Latino Statewide Summit on Health is free, because
it is being underwritten by
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Space is limited, so
pre-registration is required by visiting:
The registration deadline is Friday, March 14. So far, more than
100 people are planning to attend. A waiting list will be formed
if all available slots fill up from pre-registration.