Minnesota Department of Health, Catholic Community Work To Increase Latina Access to Prenatal Care, Social Services
The Minnesota Department of Health and more than 20 medical, community and religious organizations in the state are working to increase Latinas' access to health care, especially prenatal care and other social services, Minnesota Public Radio reports. Although blacks and American Indians have the highest fetal and infant mortality rates in Minnesota and the U.S., health department efforts have started to decrease fetal and infant mortality rates for those groups, while the state's Latino population has grown, MPR reports. In addition, undocumented Latinas who become pregnant in the U.S. often experience difficulty identifying and accessing resources and services due to language barriers and fear of deportation, although emergency and prenatal health care are available to all individuals in the U.S. regardless of documentation status, according to MPR. The Rev. Jose Santiago, pastor at Holy Rosary Parish in Minneapolis, noticed that he was conducting many services for infants or fetuses who died prematurely. Santiago and other members of the Catholic community discussed the fetal and infant deaths they witnessed in late 2004 and early 2005 with Cheryl Fogarty, infant mortality consultant at the health department. According to Fogarty, health department data through 2002 -- the most recent year for which data are available -- indicates that fetal death rates have increased while infant mortality rates remained stable. Fogarty said that diabetes, poor diet, harsh working conditions and domestic violence are possible factors contributing to fetal deaths among Latinas, who also have higher rates of receiving prenatal care late in pregnancy or not at all, MPR reports. According to Santiago, local churches with large numbers of undocumented immigrants are applying for grants to employ a health coordinator to educate parishioners on health issues (Espinoza, Minnesota Public Radio, 11/13).
A transcript, audio and expanded coverage of the segment are available online.