November 16, 2022

Passport to preventive care

Special event helps Latino community ensure their flu vaccinations and screenings are up to date.

With her “Passport to Health” card in hand, Alicia Young, a Kaiser Permanente member in Orange County, California, visited the Kaiser Permanente Santa Ana Medical Offices’ Health and Wellness Fair on a recent Saturday.

The Complete Care and the Center for Healthy Living teams at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California addressed health care disparities in and around their local community by helping members stay on top of their preventive care.

With the passport, members were able to navigate through different stations to receive a flu shot, a diabetic foot exam, health education resources, and blood pressure and eye health assessments. They could also have lab orders processed and schedule other screenings.

“It’s a one-stop shop, and I got it all done in 20 minutes!” said Young.

Reducing health inequities through community outreach

Situated within a predominantly Latino community, the Santa Ana Medical Offices staff focused its outreach on people who may be hesitant to visit a doctor due to language barriers, cultural differences, or other factors.

This event was led by Lucio Loza, MD, and Marisa Stevens, RN. Staff and physicians met with Kaiser Permanente members, including some with uncontrolled diabetes, who had not visited with a physician in quite some time. They also administered more than 100 flu shots. Members shared how much it was appreciated that the offices were open on a Saturday.

“Our collective mission and goal are to dismantle health inequities by providing our members with the tools they need to reach successful health care outcomes, regardless of the social needs they may be faced with,” said Dr. Loza. “Financial, transportation, language, and time constraints are some of the challenges faced by many in our community.”

Kaiser Permanente plans to host additional wellness fairs at the Santa Ana Medical Offices in the future, as Dr. Loza and his team believe proactive outreach is a key factor in improving both member and community health. “It is important for us to recognize as an organization that we need to adapt and look for creative ways to meet the needs of our members, especially those from underserved communities. Without good mental and physical health, nothing else really matters,” he said.

Preventive care matters

Latino children 5 and older are more likely to be hospitalized with flu than non-Hispanic white children, according to a 2021 study of racial and ethnic disparities in severe flu-related outcomes across 10 flu seasons. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that people living in high-poverty areas are at higher risk for severe outcomes from flu.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, 21.5% of Latinos live in poverty, compared to 17.4% of African Americans, 14.5% of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 12.1% of white people. To help reduce these health disparities, Kaiser Permanente offers education and preventive care in specific communities where socioeconomic status may be related to higher flu hospitalization rates among these groups.

These health statistics are a potent reminder for health care providers and organizations of the need for continued work to reduce disparate health conditions in vulnerable communities through proactive, preventive health outreach and education.