Baltimore Works To Get Latinos Appropriate Medical Care

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic group in the country and in Baltimore.  But many of them are not getting the medical care they need.

Andrea Fujii explains the city is trying to fix the problem. 

At Baltimore Medical System’s Healthy Living Center, thousands of Latinos with no insurance receive care.  But there are many others who go without.

“It’s a big challenge for us because a lot of the Latino community they don’t speak English,” said Flor Portillo, health care worker.

To help, the city just released its first ever Latino Health Report.

“This report can serve as a public health tool to help efforts in advancing the health of the Latino community overall,” said Dr. Oxiris Barbot, City Health Commissioner.

It found that between 1990 and 2008 the overall city population declined by 13 percent, but Latinos increased by 50 percent, bringing the Latino population to more than 17,000.  But experts agree it’s really probably double that.

There are challenges to getting accurate information, including language and cultural barriers, plus the fear of undocumented status.

Portillo provides medical care to Latinos and knows the biggest obstacle.

“It’s harder for them because sometimes they don’t have insurance,” she said.

Besides lack of insurance, the report found binge drinking, homicide and accidental death are the leading causes of death.

Those who work with Latinos say they hope the city will work together to help them with the care they need.

“We don’t think that it is only an issue affecting Latinos. It really affects everybody because we live together,” said Angelo Solera, Latino Providers Network.

The report also found good news.  Latinos have lower infant mortality rates, and fewer Latinos smoke compared to Baltimore’s total population.

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