This is another blog by David Molina, who serves on the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs:
On Sat., Nov 7th, 2009, huddled in the most unorthodox of locations, Tienda La Tapatia, a Mexican grocery and bakery in Gresham, Oregon, over 60+ Latino community members gathered around to have a frank conversation about the state of health care in the Latino community.
The forum was hosted in collaboration with the Oregon Latino Health Coalition, KUNP-TV Univision and the Consulate of Mexico in Portland. Grandparents, men, women, youth and children shared their stories and the challenges they faced in Oregon. Working class and immigrant challenges such as:
-a woman and her family who was struggling to stay afloat with medical bills and piling debt after her husband who had been diagnosed with diabetes had been fired from the job
-a gentleman who lost part of his finger on the job site who was refused service at an hospital emergency room
-an elderly man who was refused medical care after being unable to furnish an Oregon driver’s license
-a father who was struggling to pay the expensive monthly health insurance premium for him and his family of six and in debt after one son fell gravely ill
-a high school student with high academic marks unsure of her future as she is not a U.S. Citizen or legal resident
Our panel’s moderator Ms. Delia Hernandez of KUNP-TV Univision and the distinguished panel composed of bilingual physicians and health care advocates included: Dr. Yves Lefranc, Oregon Academy of Family Medicine; Dr. Peter Mahr, Physicians for a National Health Program; Edith Molina, Oregon Latino Health Coalition; and, Ursula Rojas Weiser, Consulate of Mexico in Portland.
These challenges are not isolated to East Multnomah County alone, nor Oregon. Hispanic families often work in low-wage service sector positions and industries that involve greater risk and exposure of work related injury and limited health insurance. No doubt access to affordable health care remains a top priority for Hispanic families.
The health of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority and their families is essential in guaranteeing their continuing social and economic contribution to the nation and state.