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Latina Salud: Body, Mind & Spirit

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Ana Gonzalez
Ana Gonzalez is now receiving treatment for cardiovascular disease, a condition that was initially misdiagnosed because she could not communicate with doctors in English. LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT, produced by WHYY/Philadelphia, will be broadcast on WHYY-TV12 Thursday, June 27 at 9 pm.

Dolores Mojica
Dolores Mojica, with her grandson, granddaughter and great granddaughter, had not been examined by a doctor in 20 years and is now terminally ill with breast cancer. Her story is one of several featured in LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT, produced by WHYY/Philadelphia, airing Thursday, June 27 at 9 pm on WHYY-TV12.

Dr. Benjamin Sanchez
Dr. Benjamin Sanchez, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine (right), sees a large number of Hispanic patients and reserves every Friday for their appointments. LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT, produced by WHYY/Philadelphia, will be broadcast on WHYY-TV12 Thursday, June 27 at 9 pm.

IMPROVING MEDICAL CARE FOR LATINAS IS THE FOCUS OF WHYY'S ORIGINAL TV PRODUCTION "LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT" ...Live TV broadcast of town meeting at WHYY immediately following program...

LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT, an original WHYY television production airing Thursday, June 27 at 9 p.m. on TV12, investigates how cultural barriers affect the ability of Latinas in the Philadelphia region to obtain adequate medical care. The program also explores how health providers can better serve Latinas and what Latinas themselves can do to improve their health status.

Immediately after the program, WHYY-TV12 will broadcast a town meeting and panel discussion live from WHYY's Independence Foundation Civic Space. Panelists will address topics presented in the LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT program, and answer questions from the audience.

The LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT documentary is the centerpiece of WHYY's Latina Health Project, a year-long, multimedia exploration of cultural issues that impact health and medical care for Latinas. The project explores, through TV, radio, internet and community events, how Hispanic cultural traditions impede effective health care and examine how the culture of mainstream medicine can be a barrier to care for this population. Before starting production work, WHYY held a series of in-depth focus group discussions with Latina consumers, health advocates, and health providers to define the issues that most concern them.

In a recent survey conducted by The Philadelphia Health Management Corporation, 30 percent of Hispanic women rated their health status as "poor" or "fair," compared to 17 percent of non-Hispanic women. LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT examines this discrepancy through the stories of Latinas in the Philadelphia region and in Puerto Rico, as well as through interviews with health care providers and community advocates.

"It's traditional in Hispanic culture for women to put their family's needs before their own, which often leads to years of neglecting their own health and well-being," said Linda Wright Moore, Supervising Producer of the LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT program and Project Manager of the Latina Health Project.

Such is the case of Dolores Mojica. Mojica, who is featured in the program along with her family, went 20 years without seeing a physician and is now terminally ill with breast cancer and undergoing treatment in Philadelphia.

The program travels to Puerto Rico to explore the roots of the culture and beliefs about health and wellness that are held by Latinas in the Philadelphia area.

"We provide viewers with a better understanding of Hispanic traditions around health and medicine, and show the difficulties they face in adjusting to American culture without losing their Hispanic identity," stated Moore.

The language barrier Latinas experience with the medical community is also a significant problem. The documentary features Ana Gonzalez, who is currently receiving treatment for cardiovascular disease, a condition that was initially misdiagnosed because she could not effectively communicate with her English-speaking doctor. Gonzalez is now a patient of Dr. Benjamin Sanchez, MD and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine. Sanchez is a Spanish-speaking doctor in the Cardiology Department at Temple who has a large number of Hispanic patients and reserves every Friday for their appointments.

"I think the language barrier in and of itself is tremendous," explains Dr. Sanchez in the documentary. "What someone may perceive as chest pain in the English language, may be different from what someone may express in the Spanish language."

LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT features some of the organizations striving to help meet the need for Spanish-speaking doctors.

For example, Community Volunteers in Medicine is a clinic in Chester County, Pennsylvania staffed with bilingual volunteers who can easily communicate with Hispanic patients and medical fees are based on the patient's income. In North Philadelphia, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, a not-for-profit organization, provides bilingual-bicultural service programs that support and prepare families to live happier, healthier and more peaceful lives. Furthermore, Temple University has created a bilingual wing in the hospital's medical and surgical unit.

Language, cultural and economic barriers also prevent many women from receiving treatment for mental health issues such as domestic violence and depression.

"If you are in an abusive marriage or relationship, and you don't speak English and your partner is the sole bread-winner, where are you supposed to go for help?" asked Moore. LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT explores programs that can provide assistance and support.

One program is a sewing circle created by the Lutheran Settlement House. The "circle," which takes place in an unassuming private home, is a place for women to gather and sew. However, it was devised to offer women a support system for those who feel uncomfortable going to a shelter. While they are there, women can discuss their problems with others without pressure.

The documentary also highlights a phenomenon called the "Hispanic Paradox," which suggests that despite the challenges they face in getting quality care in America, Hispanic culture may actually protect newcomers from chronic ailments like heart disease and cancer, the leading killers in the U.S.

Other upcoming Latina Health Project events include a radio call-in show on 91FM on July 19 at 8:00 p.m., that will focus on health issues faced specifically by young Hispanic women including the high rate of teen pregnancy and attempted suicide. Also on July 19, The Latina Health Project will publish a special section on women's health in the Spanish language weekly newspaper Al Dia. On July 20, "Festival de Mujeres Conversando" ("Women Talking Festival"), an interactive community gathering devoted to Latina health issues, will be held at the Roberto Clemente Middle School. In addition, a website at www.latinasalud.org serves as a clearinghouse for information and provides a place to share thoughts and experiences involving medical care. Visitors to the site, which is offered in English and Spanish, are encouraged to fill out the Latina Salud Health Questionnaire.

LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT was produced by WHYY/TV in Philadelphia. Trudi Brown is the program's Executive Producer and Patricia Hartman served as Associate Producer.

LATINA SALUD: BODY, MIND & SPIRIT is made possible by The William Penn Foundation with additional support from Glaxo Smith Kline and Glaxo Smith Kline Oncology.

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