Sunday, November 05, 2000

Health fair to aid area Hispanics

Mammograms, exams offered

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Today's Feria de Salud — Spanish for health fair — is especially geared toward Northern Kentucky's Hispanics, who often work racetrack, factory, restaurant and construction jobs without the security of health benefits.

        The free event will be 1 to 4:30 p.m. at Howard Hall, 25 E. 11th St., following the noon, Spanish-language Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption.

        Mammograms, cholesterol and blood-pressure checks, and basic vision and dental exams will be available. A children's health van and a special session on hypothermia for those who work outdoorsalso will be featured.

        “We're reaching out to an under-served population,” said Margaret Weaver, a registered nurse and coordinator of the event.

        At least 200 people could attend the Cathedral's first health fair for its growing Hispanic population.

        The church began offering a Spanish-language Mass about two years ago. It now attracts between 250 and 350 Hispanics a week.

        The church also has hosted a job fair and housing workshop.

        Plans for the health fair began last spring, soon after Sister Juana Mendez was hired to work with Diocese of Covington's Hispanic population.

        Now, “it's happening. It's going to be awesome,” Sister Juana said. “This is like an education for them. They realize and know it's out there for them and these are the necessary steps” to obtain medical services.

        Those attending the health fair will learn about Family Health Centers Inc., which provides medical care to lower-income families and has a Spanish-speaking medical team serving Hispanics at Covington locations.

        Sister Juana said interest is high.

        “As long as they know it's something that's going to benefit the family, they'll come,” she said.

        Northern Kentucky's Hispanic population mainly consists of first- and second-generation families from Mexico and other Latin countries.

        She thinks there is a growing need for churches, schools and other institutions to start working with this population. “It's a reality. They're coming. The jobs are here. We're here to stay,” she said.

        Across the nation, minority groups experience disproportionate rates of illnesses and deaths and receive less intense medical treatment.

        In 1999, more than 33 percent of Hispanics between 65 and 74 years of age had diabetes. The rate was 17 percent for non-Hispanic whites in that same age group.



        Su Casa Hispanic Ministry Center, 115. W. Seymour Ave., in Carthage, is holding a free health fair from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12.

        Cholesterol screenings and information booths on AIDS, exercise, arthritis, blood pressure, diabetes and exercise will be featured.

        For more information, call 761-1588.


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