Source: Index Tribune
Fields/Index-Tribune Staff Writer
Scores of Sonoma Valley residents
gathered at the Binational Health Fair
on Saturday, Oct. 19, where they received information about health care and
were connected with the Mexican Consulate.
The event, which was hosted by La Luz Center at Boys & Girls Clubs
of Sonoma Valley, is part of the Mexican Consulate’s Binational Health Week
that seeks to improve the health of underserved Latinos living in the U.S. and
Canada by providing access to and creating awareness of various community
health and human service agencies.
The health fair is vital to members
of the underserved community, according to Patricia
Talbot, who started the health fair in Sonoma a decade ago, because it not
only provides access to service providers but also knowledge of important
issues affecting members of the at-risk community. Talbot, who is a registered
nurse and health-care consultant, serves as chair of Sonoma Valley Health Round
Table, which aims to support the health of the Valley and through a network of
health organizations collaborates to ensure residents’ health.
This was the first time the Mexican
Consulate partnered with the health fair, said Kara Olness-Reyes, La Luz Center’s director of programs, which, she believes, may have contributed to
the event’s high attendance.
With more than 240 participants
attending the health fair, and even more visiting the consulate for expedited
passports and government-issued IDs, Olness-Reyes said the attendance doubled
from what it has been in past years. Residents attending the meeting not only
had access to information, but also were able to receive medical treatment,
including flu shots donated by Sonoma Valley Hospital, dental and pediatric
screenings, and advice from bilingual nutritionists.
Olness-Reyes said not only was
community attendance larger than previous events, but so was the number of
agencies and volunteers involved, with 40 booths staffed with 80 to 90 people,
and nearly 60 people volunteering at the event.
“The event is important because it
brings together many health service organizations in one building, and they see
who we are and how we support individual families, and (how we) collaborate
with each other,” Talbot said, noting that after the health fair people have
more knowledge and are empowered to help themselves.
Success of the event was credited
in part to the community partners who participated, especially the newly formed
Binational Health Committee, which is comprised of La Luz, the Boys & Girls
Clubs, the Health Round Table, Sonoma Valley Hospital and Sonoma Valley
Community Center, and works to provide comprehensive health services to Valley
residents. La Luz Executive Director
Juan Hernandez said he hopes that with the success of this first
collaboration, that these groups will continue to partner to serve the
Madolyn Agrimonti, chair of the
diabetes committee within the Health Round Table, provided money for food and
organized volunteers to make and serve it at the event. Agrimonti also
recruited a bilingual nutritionist to run a booth and educate attendees on
diabetes – one of the number one health issues plaguing Latinos in the United
States, according to the Office of Minority Health. “We are giving information
and doing it in a bilingual format so people who don’t normally have access can
get information on being healthy or where they can go for services in the
Sonoma City Councilmember Laurie Gallian attended the event to
show there are no boundaries for health care in the Valley. The event, she
explained, is crucial in connecting people to organizations in the community
that can help them with various issues, from gaining access to affordable
health coverage through agencies like Covered California, to resolving legal
issues with the help of Sonoma County Legal Aid.
“We need to be partners, for
without partners we are only as strong as our unaware links,” said Gallian, a
2012 recipient of the Amistad (Friendship) Award, which recognizes individuals
for their commitment to the Valley’s Latino community.
While Saturday’s health fair achieved La Luz’s primary goal of
serving Sonoma’s Latino community, Olness-Reyes said the organization would
like to bridge the gap between Latinos and Caucasians in the community in the
future. “Even though the event was combined with the Mexican consulate, it
doesn’t mean you need to be Mexican to attend the event,” Olness-Reyes said.
“We want to bridge to other sectors of the community to increase attendance of
the non-Latino population, because there is no other health fair in Sonoma
“We are one community and health
care is one of the number one issues – mental, dental, medical – we all need to
be better and stronger as a community,” Gallian said. “If we serve the
community well, we serve it together.”
Source: Index Tribune