National Hispanic Heritage Month 2012

Sept. 27, 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.

Global Health Initiative

The College’s Global Health Program inventories the clinical, research, education and public health efforts of faculty working locally with the global Hispanic communities of the world.  There are currently 30 faculty working in 10 different Spanish-speaking countries, representing 11 MCW Departments (Biophysics, Emergency Medicine, Family & Community Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Orthopaedic Surgery, Pathology, Pediatrics, Plastic Surgery, Radiology, Surgery and Urology). Faculty are advancing the clinical care, training and research in the fields of pediatric urology, reconstructive plastic surgery, telemedicine, pediatric cardiac critical care, maternity health, rehabilitation engineering, primary care, HIV prevention and orthopedic surgery with colleagues in Spain, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Dr. Saul Suster, Chairman and Professor of Pathology, recently worked through the Global Health Program to sign an affiliation agreement with the Catholic University School of Medicine in Ecuador to collaborate on research projects that are of mutual interest.  The affiliation is housed within the Department of Pathology, and will consist of an exchange of faculty and residents for short-term educational experiences. Through this partnership, Dr. Suster looks to familiarize faculty and students to the disease burdens of people from South America. This type of partnership is a means for physicians to learn important lessons about health disparities and cultural diversity and encourages a lifelong commitment to the service of vulnerable communities. 

Dr. Carol Moreno-Quinn, Associate Professor of Physiology, came from the University of Murcia (UM) in Spain, and is working with the Global Health Program to continue the Department of Physiology’s long history with UM.  The current Dean of the University of Murcia conducted his postdoctoral research in the MCW Department of Physiology, and three other people who conducted their postdoctoral research at MCW are now on the UM faculty. Dr. Moreno-Quinn’s lab collaborates with them on a number of projects, including one on hypertension in females, and she plans to host another student from Murcia in the near future.

View the global health interactive map to learn more about these faculty-lead efforts that address Hispanic health disparities.

Sexual and reproductive health of Latino families

Dr. Julia Lechuga, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine in the Center for AIDS Intervention Research, works on evaluating and designing interventions to better the sexual and reproductive health of Latino families. She is currently the recipient of a National Institutes of Health grant from the National Institute of Nursing to study the decisions of mothers and daughters to obtain the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

HPV is the principal cause of cervical cancer, and cervical cancer incidence is two-to-four times greater among Latina women than non-Latina white women. Unfortunately, large ethnic disparities also exist in vaccination rates. For example, 50% of girls who have regular access to cervical cancer screening have been vaccinated, but only 13% of ethnic minority girls who are considered medically underserved have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

The findings from this research will be used to help create a program to promote vaccination in the Latino community, as well as inform health care providers of specific information that can be provided to Latina patients to motivate vaccination. The grant was awarded to Dr. Lechuga in partnership with the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center.

Dr. Lechuga is also the recipient of a Healthier Wisconsin Partnership (HWPP) award in partnership with Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, Inc. (PPWI), CORE/El Centro, Council for the Spanish Speaking, and Holy Angels Old Catholic Church. This award allows the partners to evaluate the implementation of a Lay Health Advisor Model.  The program delivers sexual and reproductive health education to over 6,000 Latino individuals and families each year through culturally competent social marketing and home health education gatherings. The partners received the award to evaluate the effect of the model on improving sexual and reproductive health outcomes for Latino youth and adults in Milwaukee.

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