New Center for Latino Health
Date: November 1, 2013
Building on a decade of providing health services to the Latino community, Johns Hopkins Medicine has created a Center of Excellence for Latino Health at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.
Known in Spanish as Centro de Johns Hopkins para la Salud y Oportunidad de los Latinos, the center opened in August and emphasizes a family-centered, multidisciplinary approach to health that bridges medicine, pediatrics, gynecology and obstetrics, and psychiatry. It will focus on enhancing the health of Latinos in Baltimore and beyond by combining coordinated clinical care with advocacy, education and research.
This initiative was made possible by a five-year grant from the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation, and matching funds from leaders of Bayview, Johns Hopkins’ school of medicine, and the Johns Hopkins Health System. Baltimore’s Latino population has grown tremendously over the past decade, especially around Bayview, where more than half of pediatric patients and 45 percent of obstetric patients are Latino.
Meeting the Needs of the Latino Community
Chief among the center’s goals is learning from the Latino community about their health needs and developing programs to address them, says its director, Tina Cheng, director of pediatrics at Bayview and an expert on minority health disparities. Cheng is working with infectious disease specialists Kathleen Page and Adriana Andrade, as well as pediatricians Sarah Polk and Lisa DeCamp, to manage the center’s offerings.
Latinos in the Bayview area, largely immigrants, face a number of health issues, including childhood obesity and diabetes, dental cavities and access to health care, says Cheng. There also are significant mental health needs for adolescents trying to fit in and for adults feeling economic pressures and isolation, especially among those trying to raise money to send to family members left behind in other countries. But “they also have areas of positive health behavior and health outcomes we can learn from, like strong families and good birth outcomes.”
The center represents a culmination of efforts started by Page and Andrade a few years ago, when they noticed an uptick in Latinos with HIV facing significant language barriers. In 2010, they created the Hopkins Organization for Latino Awareness, or HOLA. The network of 15 Latino faculty members and others aims to improve outcomes and access to care for Latinos at Johns Hopkins through scholarship, education and policy leadership.
Educating Staff and Students, Outreach
HOLA has directed a range of activities, including cultural competency courses for medical students, health seminars at the school of public health and an elective through which trainees in Johns Hopkins’ urban health residency program treat Latino patients at Esperanza Center, a free clinic for immigrants. Ongoing community outreach by the center’s faculty includes a bimonthly health column published in a Latino periodical, a Spanish language radio program on El Zol, the largest Latino HIV outreach program in Baltimore, and pro bono provision of care at Esperanza Center.
The new funding allows investigators to strengthen HOLA’s research base; develop interventions to reduce health disparities for Latinos; expand collaborations with other Johns Hopkins and Baltimore city entities like Head Start and Women, Infants and Children; establish a website for community residents; and hire a full-time administrator, say Page and Cheng.