National Hispanic Heritage Month 2012

Oct. 05, 2012 College News - In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, the Medical College of Wisconsin is creating a series of video vignettes and stories that will be posted on InfoScope.  The vignettes highlight some of the Hispanic and Latino members of the MCW community and the contributions they have made.   The stories highlight MCW programs that improve the health of underserved populations (including Hispanic and Latino), offer these populations improved access to health care and education, and reduce health disparities.

All of the vignettes and stories will be added to the College’s Hispanic Heritage Month 2012 Web page as they are published.

National Hispanic Heritage Month was created to celebrate the cultures, histories and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Portugal, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Most heritage months take place within a particular calendar month, but Hispanic Heritage Month is held over parts of two months to incorporate significant dates within the Hispanic community: Sept. 15, which is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua; Sept. 16, which is the anniversary of Mexico’s independence; Sept. 18, which is the anniversary of Chile’s independence; Sept. 21, which is the anniversary of Belize’s independence; and Oct. 12, which is Columbus Day. Columbus Day celebrates the day in 1492 when Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus discovered America.

Student programs

The Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) at the Medical College of Wisconsin is a student-run organization whose goals are to increase the public knowledge about the Latino culture, provide a support network for minority medical students and help improve the well-being of the local Latino community through service and health education. The LMSA at MCW is constantly growing and evolving, becoming more involved every year, as seen by the increased membership and community outreach.

Currently, the LMSA at MCW provides much of its services through a facility on the south side of Milwaukee called the United Community Center. Through this relationship, the members of the LMSA have been able to mentor young adults with programs such as “What It Takes To Get Into Medical School: An Insider’s Perspective,” during which medical students talk informally about the path from high school to medical school.  In addition, the LMSA members volunteer at many of the UCC’s annual events such as Noche de Gala, which raises money for the Latino Strings Program.

Other activities that the LMSA at MCW organizes includes Spanish “Conversessions,” where medical students can learn Spanish over lunch, and the Salsa Night Social, in which the LMSA members gather to learn more about Latino culture.  The LMSA also provides Spanish interpreters for health fairs. 

Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program

A Healthier Wisconsin Partnership Program (HWPP)-supported partnership addressing the health needs of the Latino population is Developing a Novel Intervention to Improve Health Literacy among Wisconsin Latinos, a collaboration between the Medical College and Centro de la Comunidad Unida (United Community Center) in Milwaukee.

Type 2 Diabetes is a serious health problem in the U.S. and the prevalence is high and increasing, especially among minority populations. The incidence of Diabetes is nearly two times greater among Latinos than in non-Latino populations. Diabetes also is medically more severe among Latinos, as they suffer from higher incidence of diabetic complications (such as retinopathy and nephropathy) due in part to late diagnosis.

This collaborative project is working to bridge the serious divide between the Latino population and access to accurate and understandable information about Diabetes through a culturally tailored media intervention, showcasing a Spanish-language teledrama (telenovela) with characters whose dialogue, interactions, and experiences yield accurate information and positive socio-behavioral modeling. 

According to a health literacy study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for adults at all levels of health literacy, “no single type of print materials was as important as non-print sources, including broadcast media such as radio or television.” Indeed, as health communication researchers have shown, interventions that are designed to be both educational and entertaining have great potential to increase knowledge and inspire changes in knowledge, attitudes, cultural norms, and behaviors, including screening behaviors.