By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Optimistic results from outreach projects prompts new vaccine incentive to launch
covid vaccine health doctor

MONROE — The Green County Latinx Community Health Report gathered by the Wisconsin Community Health Empowerment Fund (WCHEF) recently released its report on a COVID-19 outreach project in Green County that sought to close COVID-19 vaccine gap between Hispanic and non-Hispanic Green County residents.

The project included four vaccine clinics in Monroe and outreach to businesses with higher volumes of Latinx employees and a compilation of interviews with local Latinx leaders and community members.

Results from this outreach effort suggest the greatest barriers to health for Latinxs in Green County are insufficient information in Spanish, a lack of transportation, and disconnected or unaffordable health and medical care.

The number one recommendation to overcome these barriers to health, among others, is to update current phone triage procedures for all local health and social service systems with information on how to reach Spanish-speaking personnel or liaisons in Spanish.

All respondents highlighted social connections and/or communication as the most important components of a healthy community. They shared that social connection facilitates information sharing among community members, improves mental health and healthy decision-making, and can correct for other barriers to health.

Additionally, they suggested that affordable housing and secure, good-paying employment form the foundation for a healthy community.

A key question in the survey was “In your community, do you think all people have an equal opportunity for good health? Why or why not?”

When asked this question, 75% of respondents answered no and 37.5% felt very strongly that Green County does not provide equal opportunities for good health. Of the respondents who answered yes, they still cited barriers for many Latinx community members including confusion over how to access an interpreter for healthcare needs. All — 100% — of respondents indicated that undocumented community members face additional challenges to good health.

In Green County, Latinx community members noted that navigating the health system can be difficult, especially with a language barrier. Additionally, low availability of health information from trusted sources in the Latinx community exacerbates other health-related issues highlighted in this report.

To reduce these barriers, Latinx community members and leaders recommend these opportunities in health:

●  Employ community health workers from the Latinx community to share health news and aid in navigating the existing health system

●  Share more health and community service information or factsheets from healthcare and other service professionals in Spanish

●  Recommend employers set healthy workplace policies and share health educational resources with staff members

●  Resume regular information exchanges between law enforcement, business leaders, and Latinx leaders in Green County

●  Facilitate round-table discussions on community health topics and short health education sessions

●  Promote opportunities for cross-cultural exchange between Anglo and Latinx community members

The number one recommendation to overcome these barriers to health in the Green County Latinx community is to update communication and phone triage systems for all local health and social service organizations with information in Spanish on how to reach Spanish-speaking personnel or liaisons for assistance.

In early 2021, there was an approximately 10%+ gap in vaccination rates between Hispanic and Non-Hispanic communities in Green County, with the Hispanic community experiencing a significantly lower COVID-19 vaccination rate than the Non-Hispanic community. After this project, that gap was reduced to 0.6% in Green County by the end of October 2021.

Successful gap closure is attributed to the following:

●  Engaging trusted and respected local Hispanic leaders in the COVID-19 education and vaccination process

●  Utilizing community health workers to build trust and assist with clinics and in education

●  Developing outreach plans in English and in Spanish and utilizing both local and social media for education and event promotion

●  Offering Spanish-speaking support at COVID-19 educational sessions and vaccination clinics

●  Hosting vaccine clinics and educational sessions in outdoor, natural, settings that are frequently visited by the Latinx community

Building off of the initial program’s successes, the WCHEF is the recipient of a second COVID-19 grant through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Vaccine Community Outreach Grant Program 2.0. Through this program, the WCHEF is providing $20 Kwik Trip gas card incentives for all Green County residents who become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or receive a COVID-19 booster shot within the promotional term.