Last week, Puentes New Orleans, Committee for a Better New Orleans and the New Orleans Health Department released the results of a Hispanic health survey ("I Don't Know Where to Go: Latino Community Health Issues in New Orleans") in which 275 people between the ages of 25 and 40 participated. Nearly all had immigrated to New Orleans — more than half of the respondents are from Honduras. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 5 percent of Orleans Parish is Hispanic or Latino.
Nearly half of the respondents had sought medical care over the last two years, while 25 percent had never received checkups from a doctor. Of those who did receive medical care, 38 percent went to community clinics and 24 percent went to emergency rooms — in most cases to receive non-emergency care.
The survey found that respondents' greatest barrier to health care is cost, while 21 percent said they didn't know where to go to receive care. Puentes found that only eight of 29 community clinics and area hospitals have Spanish-speaking employees (only 13 percent of respondents read English, while 21 percent can speak English fluently).
The most common health issues among respondents are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, dental issues, alcohol abuse and mental health issues.
"While the results of the report are concerning, they are extremely informative and have already helped direct our work," Health Department Director Charlotte Parent said in a statement. Parent said the city is working to improve language access at community health clinics via 504HealthNet.
As first reported by NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune, District B City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell plans to introduce a motion next year aiming to create sweeping changes to assist Spanish-speaking residents, particularly in health and city services, including more Spanish-speaking employees at City Hall. One solution, according to Cantrell, is introducing a municipal ID card similar to cards issued in California, New Jersey and New York that identify residents (a program that would seem to run counter to the state's hard-line anti-immigration policies). Cantrell's office says there's no concrete plan yet, but a City Council motion is forthcoming.