Toledo-area Latinos will have the opportunity to obtain some free health screenings during a health fair to be held Saturday, March 29, 2014, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at the Sofia Quintero Art and Center (SQACC), 1225 Broadway St.
Alianza por la Salud Latina (APSL) is hosting the health fair, aimed at improving the overall health of Latinos and promoting better management of diseases and disorders prevalent within the Latino community, such as diabetes.
APSL is a Midwest regional chapter of the Latino Medical Student Association. It is an organization for professionals and students interested in Latino health issues in the U.S., for those who have or will serve on a medical mission in Latino countries, those who would like to advocate for the rights of Latinos in healthcare regardless of immigration status, those who would like to learn and practice Spanish, and those who would like to volunteer in the Latino community.
“One of the missions of APSL includes promoting quality healthcare in the Latino communities and the best way to reach that goal is by educating people on common disease states such as diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia among others,” said Gladys Yacila, a UT pharmacy student and APSL officer. “In addition, studies have shown that there is a higher prevalence of some disease states such as diabetes in Latinos than in other ethnic groups.”
Ms. Yacila became a member of APSL in 2012, seeing it “an excellent way to collaborate with the Latino population.” She learned about the group from other UT pharmacy students and friends.
“Our interest in being part of APSL is rooted in previous experiences being involved in the improvement of other's health in the United States as well as other countries such as Honduras, Peru and Colombia,” she explained. “We truly enjoy serving other people, educating other people, and being able to make a difference whether to hundreds of people or to a single individual. It is the most rewarding experience someone can have.”
Many of the group’s members have been involved in other volunteer work such as health awareness campaigns to promote medical education and disease prevention, donating their time and talents to charities such as the Ronald McDonald House, Heartland Hospice, the Community Care Clinic, migrant farm worker clinics, and medical missions to Honduras.
APSL is partnering with the Community Care Clinic, Mercy St. Charles Hospital, and Nuestra Gente. Volunteers, including trained UT pharmacy and medical students, a physician and a pharmacist offer health screening for cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and HIV, along with pertinent information on those topics in English and Spanish.
Medication adherence counseling and question-answer opportunities regarding medications will be provided. Burrito bowls from Chipotle restaurants, snacks and drinks also will be available.
The information and screenings especially will be important to Latino families who lack health insurance. Access to proper prevention and care remain major issues in Toledo’s Latino community, despite the efforts of nonprofit healthcare groups and public agencies.
“Unfortunately, uninsured people are less likely to receive medical care and higher mortality rates exist among them. Therefore, preventing rather than treating a condition is a key to improve health care,” explained Ms. Yacila. “The screenings and education provided at the health fair will allow patients to prevent a disease, and maintain proper health. In addition, the health care providers involved in this event are also volunteers at a community clinic where medications and services are provided for free. Thus, patients can be referred to the clinic.”
APSL is also an organization about having some fun while celebrating Latino culture through traditions, stories, food, dancing, music, and more. Events include community service events in the Toledo area, Latino Heritage Month activities, and dances. The organization has partnered with the Sofia Quintero Art and Cultural Center on other projects, including a Día de los Muertos dance in 2012.