Unique Health Care Symposium Focuses on Latino Population

September 16, 2004

Health care professionals from throughout western New York will come together Sept. 23 for a first-time symposium presented by the Rochester Coalition of Latino Physicians and the University of Rochester Medical Center to learn about health disparities in the Latino population and how best to eliminate them.

Latinos share many aspects of common heritage, such as language, religion and a strong emphasis on extended family, yet Hispanic cultures vary significantly by country of origin. Their health profiles also are unique.

Puerto Ricans suffer disproportionately from asthma, HIV/AIDS and infant mortality, while Mexican Americans and Central Americans suffer disproportionately from diabetes. Factors contributing to poor health outcomes among Latinos include language barriers, lack of access to preventive care and health insurance, and religious and cultural barriers.

“We are pleased to create a forum where physicians, nurses and other health care professionals will become familiar with disparities Latinos face and have an opportunity to discuss clinical updates and culturally relevant preventive recommendations,” says Gladys Velarde, M.D., F.A.C.C., a Strong Memorial Hospital cardiologist.

Velarde and Carlos Ortiz, M.D., F.C.C.P., a Strong Memorial pulmonologist, are serving as co-directors of the event, which will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, at the RIT Inn and Conference Center in Henrietta.

“This symposium will serve as a valuable tool in physicians’ understanding of health disparities among the Latino population,” Ortiz says. “The future health of our community, and our nation, will be influenced by our success in improving the health of those experiencing disproportional burdens of disease, disability and premature death.”

Topics will include women’s health, asthma, obesity and diabetes, care of the elderly, HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance abuse, hypertension, coronary risk factors, and visual impairment and blindness in the Latino population.

In addition to presenters from local health care agencies and organizations, including IBERO American Action League and the Finger Lakes Migrant Health Care Project, speakers will include Mariano J. Rey, M.D., director of the Center for Health Disparities Research at New York University Medical Center; and Elena Rios, M.D., president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association and CEO of the Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools Inc.

For Media Inquiries:
Karin Christensen
(585) 275-1311
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