Correcting Latinx disparities before the next health emergency
A survey of 250 Greater Cincinnati Latinx adults in 2020 finds missteps employers and healthcare workers took that made COVID precaution and treatment difficult for the Hispanic population.
A recently released survey from 2020 is teaching Greater Cincinnati healthcare workers a lot about the struggles the Hispanic population faced during the pandemic. COVID magnified insecurities in food, jobs, housing, and immigration, and that affected the way the Latinx community was able to isolate and be treated for the virus.
UC Clinical Research Coordinator in the Division of Infectious Diseases Shaina Horner surveyed more than 250 members of the Hispanic community just a few months after the start of the pandemic and published her findings in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities.
Horner started with paper surveys that her team filled out for participants using their answers because of language barriers. “If you have a first or second-grade education, a big piece of paper with a ton of questions can feel a little overwhelming and sometimes the information itself can feel overwhelming,” she says.
She went deeper with 17 people for a better understanding of their experiences and concerns. Those participants and others feared losing their jobs. Food and housing instability were at the top of their list of worries. Undocumented employees were too scared to ask for masks or gloves in the workplace because they thought it might draw too much attention to them. This put them at greater risk.
Horner didn’t do health education as part of the survey, but help was available from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, a partner in the research.
During the pandemic the Latinx community did run into red tape at hospitals for COVID treatment including a lack of consent forms in Spanish and healthcare workers who wouldn’t accept government issued consular ID as valid if the patient didn’t have a driver's license.
“The pandemic really just gave us a window into what was already happening in our healthcare system,” says Horner. “These disparities already exist for various minority groups and so it’s created this opportunity for these groups to recognize and implement some systemic changes in the way we can approach communities so that we can hopefully change the way they go in the future for future health emergencies.”
Horner suggests collaboration that is community led. “We need to find out why some people have difficulty having access to care. Let’s try to eliminate some of those barriers."