The State of Public Health for Washington Latinos

Himani Wickramanayake
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The purpose of this project is to compile information regarding the health profile of Washington Latinos and assess the way nonprofit clinics for low-income patients address these needs.

Methods: I gathered information from a number of published sources, including the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Washington State Board of Health, to establish information on health trends of Latinos in the United States and in Washington State in particular. I also found published statistics and studies regarding primary care safety net facilities – nonprofit organizations providing health care to those with minimal or no insurance. This information was supplemented by research I conducted into the SOS Clinic and the Quincy Community Health Center, two nonprofit clinics in Washington with different sources of funding and different available services. In addition, I conducted interviews with several people regarding their experiences, as Latinos, with the public health system of Washington.

Findings:

  • Health Statistics – There are many diseases from which Latinos in Washington suffer disproportionately, such as Diabetes, AIDS, cervical cancer, asthma, and tuberculosis. There are some conditions, however, that Latinos in Washington are less likely to have, namely low birthweight births or infant and neonatal mortality. The Latino population has unique medical need that need to be understood in order to be treated properly.
  • Healthcare Access – Latinos receive disproportionately low health care. This does not explain all the health trends found in Washington Latinos, but it is certainly a significant factor.
  • The Safety Net – Facilities that treat patients regardless of their ability to pay play a vital role in meeting the healthcare needs of many Latinos in Washington. But because they do not always provide continuous care, some of the diseases most affecting Latinos, like diabetes, are not adequately treated.

Recommendations:

  • More research needs to be done to better understand the unique health needs of the Latino population.
  • More funding needs to be given to safety net providers to adequately care for their patients, many of whom are Latino, in a way that addresses their specific needs.

Community Partner: Margaret Caicedo provided me with valuable information, contacts, and guidance during the course of this project.

Himani Wickramanayake

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