Lazos Fuertes for Hispanic Patients Opens New Space

February 26, 2004

On Monday, March 1, the region’s most comprehensive program for providing mental health treatment to Hispanics will hold an Open House to cut the ribbon on its new location. To improve access for patients, Strong Health’s Behavioral Medicine program, Lazos Fuertes, has moved into the Ibero-American Action League’s former headquarters and still site of Ibero’s child-welfare programs, at 817 E. Main St.

A reception will begin at 1:30 p.m., and guests will be invited to take tours of the offices. Remarks are scheduled for 2:15, with an official ribbon-cutting at 2:30.

Spanish for “Strong Ties,” Lazos Fuertes is geared specifically to the Hispanic community, providing behavioral health services through a team of bilingual health care professionals. Hispanics represent Rochester’s fastest-growing community, but access to mental health services for Hispanics has been severely limited.

In attendance at the Open House will be representatives from roughly a dozen community associations that have been instrumental in the development of Lazos Fuertes, including Eastman Kodak Company, the Golisano Foundation, Rochester Area Community Foundation, Feinbloom Foundation, the Willmott Foundation, Monroe County Office of Mental Health/Coordinated Care Services, Inc., and Citibank (which is underwriting the Open House). In addition, representatives from the Sheriff’s Department and several government officials will attend. Members of the media and the general public are welcome to attend.

Lazos Fuertes’ new location puts it in the heart of the city and next to programs of one of the area’s largest advocacy groups for Spanish-speaking people. Telva Olivares, M.D., Director of Lazos Fuertes, is the only Spanish-speaking physician in Monroe County dually trained in medicine and psychiatry.

The new space will enable Lazos to expand its services, which were previously delivered out of offices on Elmwood Avenue. Over the next three years, plans are for the staff to nearly triple, to four full-time therapists, an adult psychiatrist, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and several case advocates. The goal is to be able to provide up to 6,000 visits annually once the program is fully staffed.

Lazos also will train master’s-level family therapists on site in an effort to increase the number of therapists who can provide care to Hispanics – a critical community need.

The new space, roughly 2,400 square feet, has been decorated with prints by Diego Rivera, Simon Silva and Nivea Gonzalez. Bright accent colors of magenta, blue, yellow and orange are meant to represent the cultural heritage of the patients served there. 

With help from numerous groups, the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry and the Ibero-American Action League partnered in 1999 to create Lazos Fuertes, after several community studies showed that health care needs of the Spanish-speaking public were not being met.

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