Humboldt County immigrant advocacy group points to inequity during surges – Times-Standard

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop and has seen recent surges driven by the delta and omicron variants, a local group says the health conditions of Indigenous, immigrant and non-English speaking communities have been impacted more than those of the general public. .

Centro Del Pueblo, a non-profit organization based in Eureka, helps these communities through advocacy and legal assistance, among other things. The group’s leadership told the Times-Standard that these communities have faced and continue to face a lack of information and institutional care since the first statewide shelter-in-place order was issued. was issued by California Governor Gavin Newsom in March 2020.

“We have seen a complete imbalance between people who have received stimulus checks and various economic supports as well as those who have been able to receive faster and better medical care compared to immigrant communities who have not. had access and who also suffer from medical violence. in hospitals, in addition to not having such easy access to health facilities,” Centro del Pueblo executive director Brenda Pérez told The Times-Standard.

Last week, the Centro del Pueblo staged a protest at the Humboldt County Courthouse in which members of the group and local residents spoke out against the lack of access to medical aid and resources. The event saw speakers raising the concerns mentioned and ended with a distribution caravan which delivered boxes of fresh, non-perishable food and health information leaflets in Spanish to people in need.

In a conversation with The Times-Standard a few days after the event, Pérez said the Centro del Pueblo was first approached by Humboldt County Public Health, then directed by Teresa Francovich, after seeing videos of information published by the group. The two entities began to collaborate to produce messages to the community but the continuity of these efforts was affected following the departure of Francovich at the beginning of September 2020.

While the Centro del Pueblo has continued to produce informational content for Spanish speakers, the group believes staffing changes at the public health branch have halted those efforts.

“It feels like a step back just when there is a very high infection rate,” Pérez said.

Centro del Pueblo community organizer Karen Villa told The Times-Standard that this was not limited to Humboldt County, as major social media outreach campaigns by state and federal authorities were in English.

“This is completely lost on older people who only speak Spanish, Mixtec, Hmong or anyone else who cannot discern what is official information from the authorities and what misinformation a parent might post,” he said. she declared. “We want members of our community to be treated fairly, not just because they are our families, but because they are human beings with basic rights, regardless of their immigration status.

Despite claims of overdue messages, 66.2% of Humboldt County’s Latino population is fully immunized, compared to an overall rate of 63.85% for Humboldt County.

In response to a request for comment, county public information officer Christine Messinger said the county has worked with Centro del Pueblo, as well as other organizations such as Promotores, CUNA and True North. Organizing Network. Efforts have included videos and a town hall meeting.

Messinger’s response indicates that the two entities have continued to work together.

“We also continue to work closely with these organizations to provide them with information in Spanish, we partner to run vaccination clinics and currently have a full-fledged educational advertising campaign that focuses on vaccines and boosters,” she said.

Spanish speakers can speak to an operator providing COVID-19 information in Spanish at the County Joint Information Center. The JIC is available at 707-441-5000.

Villa said the group had received complaints from non-English speakers that they had not received translators at medical facilities during recent surges.

“They have not been supported in these hospitals when they do not know what is happening to them or their loved ones… It is during a time of great emotional stress and to arrive in a hospital where they are not not say what is happening with their loved ones is very sad,” Villa said without referring to a specific medical campus.

Messinger said the county has made efforts to accommodate the needs of Spanish speakers.

“Between staff and partners, we strive to have a Spanish speaker in each of our mobile clinics. If no one is available, Public Health can use a Spanish interpreter through the language line,” she replied.

Messinger added that upcoming Public Health Mobile Clinics on Feb. 10 and 17 at the Church of the Merry Healer in McKinleyville will have representatives from True North to provide Spanish translation.

Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital spokesman Christian Hill told The Times-Standard that the hospital provides patients and visitors and that signs advising of language services are located in common areas.

“We understand that this has been particularly important during the pandemic. For example, when revising our visiting policy to ensure maximum safety for our patients and caregivers, we created English and Spanish versions which were made available to patients in the hospital and via our websites,” Hill said.

In addition to sanitary conditions, the pandemic has also had an economic impact and on the security of their accommodation. Resources to help with lost income and rent payments do exist and are available to California residents, regardless of immigration status, but the same language and technology barriers make access difficult.

“The resources are there in a way, but many don’t have secure internet access or maybe aren’t familiar with the technology. Many may not be able to upload materials… As organizers we help (requests for housing assistance) but we find that these barriers exclude families from these resources. Even if you fill out the application, it takes about four months for benefits to even get a response,” Villa said.

Mario Cortez can be reached at 707-441-0526.

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