Language, Cultural Barriers Persist in Access to Care for New York Hispanics, Report Finds
Despite legislation that has required professional interpreters in hospitals, language, cultural and other barriers continue to hinder access to health care for Hispanics in New York, according to a study released on Saturday, the Albany Times Union reports. The 26-page report, called "Health Disparities Impacting Latinos in New York State" and sponsored by New York state Assembly member Peter Rivera (D), was authored by the New York Latino Research and Resources Network, Hunter College and Fordham University. The report was presented at the state Assembly's Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force's Somos El Futuro annual conference, which seeks to address the needs of Hispanic communities across the state.
While Hispanic immigrants as a group are in relatively good health -- in part, because of young average age and short length of time spent in the U.S. -- several barriers hamper effective care for Hispanic residents of New York, according to the report. The report found that Hispanic men in New York die from accidents at nearly twice the national rate for men, while Hispanic women in New York are twice as likely to die from diabetes as women nationwide.
Study co-author Carlos Vargas-Ramos said Hispanics' living and working environments contribute to their poorer health. "They tend to be overwhelmingly represented in the construction, agriculture and hospitality industries, which have a variety of hazards from scaffolding accidents to handling pesticides," Vargas-Ramos said, adding that Hispanics also tend to work for employers who do not provide health insurance.
Jose Davila, director of government affairs for the New York Immigration Coalition, said many new immigrants are unfamiliar with the U.S. health care system. He added, "We need to do more to close the gaps -- language barriers and sometimes immigration status -- to [Hispanics] and immigrants." Rivera said that while no legislation is currently being developed based on the findings, the report likely will be used for future proposals (Vielkind, Albany Times Union, 4/27).
The report is available online.