An outbreak of COVID-19 in Lincoln County hit Latino communities especially hard and brought awareness to their disproportionate access to health resources, information and other community services.
Seeing these disparities, OSU Extension Family and Community Health faculty and staff began looking at ways they could help Latinx communities respond.
Those involved include Dusti Linnell, Beatriz Botello and Oralia Mendez, MPH ’19, who joined Public Health Insider Series moderator Allison Meyers on October 15 to discuss how they came together and what they were able to achieve.
“Many studies have shown that people trust two primary sources when it comes to health information: Their doctors and their friends and family,” Dusti says. “So, we looked at the landscape of Newport and where the information was coming from and started thinking about how we could get friends and family to share messages.”
With this in mind, the team created Novedades del Condado de Lincoln, a YouTube channel featuring videos created by Spanish and Mam community members who share guidance on preventing the spread of COVID-19 and where to get help locally.
Working with the commissioner and local health leaders, the team also conducted community meetings, and Beatriz interpreted information in Spanish.
“Right away, they started asking about COVID, the symptoms, the numbers and where to go for masks,” says Beatriz, who received similar calls for this information early on in the pandemic and is well-known in Newport’s Latinx community.
“After the meeting, there was a big change. It has been a very good way to address the situations with Latinx,” she says. “They can hear their voice better than if I tried to pass on information. It seems as if the information goes faster.”
As their collaboration continues, the team is focusing on transitioning from crisis response to incorporating long-term practices, including developing a robust communication system, addressing isolation and a sense of belonging, expanding the team and its scope, and developing local leadership amongst community members.
“We need to engage with community members and ensure that the things we implement to address the disparities experienced by the Latino and indigenous community members align with their wants and needs,” Oralia says.
“We have to work together to get this done,” Beatriz adds. “I think we have all the tools to get there.”
The Public Health Insider webcast series is a joint initiative hosted by the OSU Alumni Association, OSU Foundation, OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and OSU Center for Health Innovation. Future webcasts in this series include “Isolate the problem: How COVID-19 is rapidly deteriorating social connectedness and exacerbating health disparities” on October 29 and “Does Your home pass the test?: How environmental health in the home can affect child development” on November 12.