Archive for the ‘Community Health Centers’ Category

Each month the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) highlights one of our activists in our “Poderosa Profiles” blog series. This month we’re highlighting Omilani, who is part of our Florida Latina Advocacy Network. Thank you for your hard work and unwavering dedication to reproductive justice. 

Hailed by The Source magazine as a “precocious figure on the spoken word scene,” audiences often compare our July poderosa, Omilani, to Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Macy Gray, Duffy, and Lauryn Hill.

This Afro-Filipina songwriter has definitely proven she can hold center stage. Performing since the age of seven, Omilani has been featured in many programs. She is most noted for performing her original works of neo-soul music, folkloric dance, tropical fusion/salsa, and hip-hop. Her eclectic vibe has become a very popular among all age groups.

Her love of languages has blossomed into a musical explosion that bridges language and cultural boundaries. Mixing Spanish, French, Portuguese, Arabic, and Yoruba into her repertoire has added a unique twist to her show. Omilani feels that this diversity of her work enables her to reach a wider audience.

​She is especially proud of the reaction of young people to her positive and inspirational messages. It is her intention to showcase the art not the artist, and to let you be impressed by the message not the messenger. Omilani hopes to inspire others to pick up a pen and write.

Omilani%20fl%20july%202014%20profileIn her own words:
Most people know me through my music or poetry, but I am an undercover scholar with over eight scholarly publications before the age of 25. Among these is an entry in the Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora about Piri Thomas, an Afro-Puerto Rican man who traveled through the Southeastern United States during the segregation era to see if he would be treated differently for being Puerto Rican – and as he saw it at the time – not black (American).

I have been researching Piri Thomas, Latinegras (Afro-Latinas), and Afro-Latino identity since high school and most of my publications are centered on the message of loving the skin WE are in. 

My poetry and music also address the issues we are confronted with as women, Black women, and Latinegras. I was acclaimed as a youth for my activist work linking the Black and Latino communities, and was co-director of the Latino Youth group, Jóvenes Lideres en Acción, as well as one of the originating establishers of El Centro Hispano in North Carolina.

I am a Cornell University graduate (2010) and my thesis was on Creole identity and the politics of “authenticity” as it relates to the African traditions that have been maintained in the Caribbean.

My participation in NLIRH has expanded my knowledge in interest in women’s reproductive rights and justice immensely. As women we may take for granted what we “don’t know.” For example, one of the biggest misconceptions I had was about Planned Parenthood, and through NLIRH I learned that they do so much more than abortions and safe sex talks. Also, the trainings and events I have attended were great for expanding my horizon about the meaning of women’s reproductive justice, including elderly women, or things as simple as access to transportation being a reproductive justice fight.

Being a woman is something very sacred, special, and powerful! Humanity shares the commonality of all being birthed through a woman and ironically this same passage has been exploited, abused, negated, suppressed, and violated in every language, location, and period of history. It is for this reason we must reclaim that sacred knowledge, protect our power, and have an understanding so that we can share resources and information that can save lives, not just of women, but also of humanity. NLIRH is such an important organization because as the old cliché goes, ‘knowledge is power,’ and this organization is empowering so many who may not know that they can find the help and obtain the necessary resources to make an informed decision about their sacred temples.

The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of NLIRH.


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It’s National Health Center Week, and it couldn’t be at a better time –  this year, it coincides with the 3rd annual Latina Week of Action for Reproductive Justice. This Week of Action we are focusing on showing Latina power in service of health care access, and community health centers have been a site of access for Latinas across the nation for years. (more…)

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Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services  has awarded $728 million in new funds to community health centers (CHCs) under the Affordable Care Act, or health reform.

According to an announcement and report by the White House yesterday, these funds will support 398 renovation and construction projects at community health centers.  Of this money, $629 million will go to 171 existing health centers across the country for “longer-term projects to expand their facilities, improve existing services, and serve more patients.” The remaining funds, $99.3 million, will go to 227 existing health centers “to address pressing facility and equipment needs and boosting health centers’ ability to care for additional patients and creating jobs.” 

The Affordable Care Act calls for increased support of community health centers; specifically $11 billion over 5 years to expand services at existing community health centers and creating new centers to reach millions more patients.

What will these grants do?

  • According to the Department of Health and Human Services, today’s grants will expand access to health care services to 860,000 patients. 

How has the ACA helped community health centers?

How will the ACA continue to support community health centers?

  • Over the next two years, these grants will support construction and renovation projects at 485 health centers and create 245 new CHC sites.

Why are community health centers important for Latinas’ health?

Community health centers are a lifeline for Latinas, their families, and their communities. In 2009, 35% of patients at community health centers were Latin@/Hispanic and 865,000 were migrant and seasonal farmworkers, many of whom were Latin@.

For many in our community, including undocumented Latin@s, community health centers can be the only source of primary and preventive care, as  CHCs provide health services regardless of one’s ability to pay, citizenship or immigration status, and primary language.

Federally-qualified community health centers are located in medically-underserved communities, are governed by a board that represents the diversity of the community, and meet performance and quality standards. Certain CHCs focus on specific populations like the homeless, migrant and seasonal farm workers, LGBT people, and those in public housing.

CHCs provide access to recommended cervical and breast cancer screenings and help Latinas manage chronic diseases.

Recognizing the importance of community health centers in reducing health disparities and delivering care to medically underserved communities, the ACA make substantial investments in these health centers to allow them to see millions more patients every year.

For more information about Community Health Centers and Latinas, please visit our website, where you can find our publication Medicaid and Community Health Centers Threatened with Funding Cuts: What is really at stake for Latinas and immigrant communities?

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The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health recognizes the critical role community health centers (CHCs) play in delivering health care to Latin@ communities across the country.

And so does the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA): the health care reform law will provide $11 billion between 2011 and 2015 to support and expand operations of community health centers.

What exactly are Community Health Centers and how do they help our communities stay healthy?

Community health centers (CHCs) provide affordable, culturally-competent comprehensive primary and preventive health care services to low-income individuals living in medically underserved areas. In practice, this means that a community health center may be the only health care provider accessible to those in our community who most need care.

Community health centers receive specific federal funding to provide free or low-cost services, including reproductive health services like cancer screenings and contraception. Studies show that CHCs play a pivotal role in providing essential reproductive health care for low-income women, including prenatal care, mammograms and Pap tests. Community health centers provide care regardless of one’s ability to pay, immigration status, or primary language. They are often governed by a community board, whose membership is at least half composed of health center patients themselves and understand the community’s needs.

In 2010, approximately 1,100 federally-funded community health centers provided care to 19.5 million Americans. Latinos represent over one-third of all CHC patients and in 2009, 865,000 patients at these centers were migrant and seasonal farmworkers, many of them Latinas. In the new health reform law, $9.5 billion will go to create new CHCs in medically underserved areas as well as expand the types of health services provided at these centers. $1.5 billion will go to enhance infrastructure at existing community health centers.

Why is this funding so important for our community?

With millions of Americans living without health care insurance, there is a dire need for more community health centers to provide essential primary and preventive health care services. Among all racial and ethnic groups, Latinos have the highest health care uninsurance rates. We also know that Latinas disproportionately suffer from conditions and diseases such as cervical cancer and HIV/AIDS among others, so increasing the reach of CHCs will improve access to preventive health services and may begin to reduce health disparities. And finally, as undocumented immigrants and permanent residents who have had that status for five years or less will continue to be ineligible for Medicaid, community health centers will continue to play a unique role on providing quality care regardless of immigration status.

For more information about Community Health Centers,please check out NLIRH’s fact sheet, Medicaid and Community Health Centers Threatened with Funding Cuts: What is really at stake for Latinas and Immigrant Communities?

Photo Credit: Health Center Data: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Uniform Data System, 2009. National Data: U.S. Census Bureau, 2008 Current Population Reports. http://www.healthcare.gov/news/factsheets/2010/08/increasing-access.html

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This month, the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health is serving up 20 DAYS OF ACA, a media, public education, and organizing effort aimed at sharing personal stories, information, and resources on how Latinas have benefited from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and how they will continue to benefit as the law is funded and implemented.

As part of our ¡Soy Poderosa! campaign, we will mobilize Latinas to commemorate this important law on its 2-year anniversary and declare their own power as health care advocates, consumers, and providers.

Starting today, we will celebrate the second anniversary of the enactment of the ACA (March 23rd), and we will watch closely as the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), the highest court of the land, holds three days of oral arguments (March 26-28) in order to review the law.

Latinas have much to gain from this important law, and even more to lose if it is undermined, reversed, or not implemented appropriately:

  • Latin@s have the highest rates of health care uninsurance among all racial and ethnic groups. Barriers to both private health insurance as well as public health programs contribute to Latin@s’  disproportionately high rates of uninsurance.
  • Those Latinas who do have access to medical care are often met with a health care workforce that is not adequately competent and sensitive to their culture and language preferences. Co-pays for even basic preventive services, including contraception, create situations where Latinas have to choose between groceries and health care.
  • Fear of bias and discrimination from health professionals due to one’s immigration status, sexual orientation, and gender identity among others also create barriers to meaningful health care.
  • The lack of a diverse health care workforce serving in communities where Latinas live puts health care out of reach for many.
  • Those without employer-sponsored coverage face prohibitively high cost and ever-increasing premiums on the individual health insurance market.
  • Eligibility rules for Medicaid, Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program often deny coverage to populations of Latinas: for example by excluding those without documentation and permanent residents who have had that status for five years or less.
  • The result is that Latinas disproportionately suffer from a number of diseases and conditions, such as cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

However, many provisions of the ACA hold the promise of expanding meaningful access to quality and affordable health care and public health services for Latinas, their families and their communities.

So for the next 20 days, we will be unpacking the ACA, highlighting personal stories of Latinas who have already benefited from the reforms, and previewing what Latinas can look forward to as the law is further implemented. Stay tuned for new fact sheets, information on calls and webinars, and opportunities to ask YOUR questions about the ACA and what it means for you.

Hope you will stay tuned! If you have a personal story of how the ACA has positively impacted your access to health care, or you’d like to get involved in our efforts, please contact Kimberly Inez McGuire at Kimberly@latinainstitute.org.

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This week you have been reading many perspectives on “what will it take to end cervical cancer?” as part of NLIRH’s blog carnival, ¡Acábalo Ya! Working Together to End Cervical Cancer.

All of us here at the  National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) emphasize the importance of monitoring cervical cancer incidence rates because they serve as indicators of a community’s access to preventive health care services.

Why is this? Because no woman should be diagnosed, let alone die, of cervical cancer. For the first time, we have a comprehensive set of tools to prevent and fight the disease. Cervical cancer is highly preventable with regular Pap tests, the HPV test, and a provider’s monitoring and treatment of precancerous changes to the cells of a cervix. The HPV vaccines (both Gardasil® and Cervarix®) are also effective tools in the prevention of cervical cancer. Furthermore, the disease is also highly treatable when detected early.

Yet Latinas continue to have the highest incidence of cervical cancer among women of all ethnic/racial groups and the second highest mortality rate after African American women. In certain states, particularly along the southern border, Latinas have the highest incidence and mortality rates.

NLIRH recognizes and raises awareness of the myriad barriers Latinas face to preventing cervical cancer: lack of health insurance, stigmas around STIs and sexual health, cultural and linguistic barriers with health care systems and providers, the high cost of health care, fear associated to immigration status, racism and xenophobia.

Thus, while we serve to educate Latinas about the importance of gynecological health and demystify sexual health issues, we also will work year-round to bring down the barriers Latinas face in accessing health care.

This year, we will work to increase federal funding for Title X, the only federally funded family planning program, that provides cervical cancer screening and STI counseling to low-income women. We urge the federal government to support other programs that positively impact Latina health including Medicaid,  Community Health Center grants, funding for immunizations and school-based health programs. We will continue to advocate for access to health care for immigrants, for instance by urging Congress to lift the five-year ban for qualified legal immigrants from accessing means-tested benefits under Medicaid.

In 2012, there will be many opportunities to reduce health disparities and increase Latinas’ access to health services. Beyond January, we hope that our elected officials will not only speak about cervical cancer awareness, but work work us to ensure Latinas live cervical-cancer free.

For more information, please visit NLIRH’s resources on cervical cancer.

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Guest post by Amelia “Amy” MacIntyre, Health Research & Policy Analyst, North American Management

The uninsured, the underinsured and those living in underserved communities in which health care services are scarce are the segments of the U.S. population that are disproportionately affected by cervical cancer.  These populations include women in rural areas, the elderly, those with less formal education, and women of color.  For example, the mortality rate for African-American and Vietnamese women continues to be twice as high as for white women – and about 50 percent higher for Latinas.  Meanwhile, in rural communities, uninsured white women have some of the poorest access to routine screening of any patient population.  Thus, cervical cancer incidence rates vividly demonstrate inequities in our health care systems and outcomes.

Community health centers supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) address this disparity by providing preventive health services – including Pap tests and HPV vaccinations – to any woman, regardless of insurance status and/or ability to pay. As such, health centers play a vital role in redressing health disparities and delivering care to groups excluded in the health care system, such as immigrants. (more…)

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