Health fair looks to boost medical accessibility for Philly’s Latino communities
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On March 10, students from the Latino Medical Students Association (LMSA) at Drexel University hosted their second annual health fair at Antonia Pantoja School in North Philadelphia. Student volunteers, including first year medical students at Drexel and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine's LMSA members, ran free screenings for vision, blood pressure, and other basic tests, providing care in Spanish as well as English with additional onsite support from physicians and community providers.
Jordy Salcedo and Joanna Sanchez, second-year medical students who are co-presidents of the Drexel Latino Medical Students Association, said that the goal is to provide accessible care and screenings that can lead to better long term medical care for the Latino community. Both noted that some of the close to 50 community members who attended health fair on Saturday were families, and the resources provided there allowed parents to seek medical support for both themselves and their children.
“This is really important, especially for us to give back to the community that we can relate to,” said Noe Cabello, a first-year medical student at Drexel and secretary of the LMSA executive board, noting that though Drexel medical students host a variety of community health fairs, this is the only one held specifically for the local Latino community.
First-year student volunteers said the health fair also offers the opportunity to put into practice the knowledge they have gained so far in a real-life, clinical setting.
“It’s just a friendly reminder that what we’re doing, what we’re studying, is actually applicable to the greater community, especially communities that don’t get as much attention or medical care,” said Drexel first-year medical student Pablo Ordoñez.
“We’re just happy that there’s an outlet for people to just even get a screening, because to have that is important for some type of basic knowledge of how my health is going,” agreed Stephanie Anciro, another Drexel LMSA first year who volunteered at the event.
Grupo Moriviví, a local support and advocacy group for Latina breast cancer survivors, was one of the local providers present at the health fair on Saturday, offering information as well as the opportunity to sign up for free mammograms. Marla Vega, president and founder of Grupo Moriviví, said that even though there are many different health services available to the public in Philadelphia, “still, language is a barrier for Latinas to get service.”
“These types of events are really important, especially with the way that healthcare is going in this nation, more and more people are going to be uninsured,” said Kevin Lopez, a first-year Drexel medical student. “In the coming years, it seems like it’s just good to spread the word that events like these happen and when they do happen people should come."