Latino HealthCare Forum to discuss barriers, solutions in Rundberg area on April 11

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Residents in the Rundberg corridor—one of Austin’s most culturally-rich but financially-poor communities—face a variety of challenges when it comes to healthy lifestyles and access to care.

On April 11, Latino HealthCare Forum will host a discussion for residents who live in the Rundberg and surrounding areas about the needs of the corridor and ways to improve the health of its inhabitants.

LHCF conducted a community health assessment, which Program Director Jill Ramirez said involved polling local leaders and conducting several focus groups—two in Spanish, one in English, one in Burmese and one in Arabic—about factors that limited Rundberg residents’ access to quality health care.

Ramirez will discuss the health assessment in detail at the forum, but she said a few of the city’s major issues were repeatedly noted as barriers to health.

Transportation is huge, Ramirez said. Bus routes usually serve main roads, and operation hours are limited, making public transportation to doctors’ offices or hospitals a challenge, she said.

Residents are not likely to walk to a care facility because of crime and inadequate infrastructure, she noted. Although crime has decreased in the some of the corridor’s hot spots, it could still be considered unsafe to walk alone, she said.

“If you want to walk, it’s very dangerous because there’s no sidewalks,” Ramirez said.

Lack of lighting also lessens the likelihood residents will walk to a health care provider, she said.

Crime, lack of sidewalks and poor lighting also contribute to residents’ lack of physical activity, Ramirez said.

While conducting the community assessment, she said LHCF also found low wages and housing contributed greatly to the health of Rundberg residents. Many residents work low-wage jobs because of their undocumented status or a language barrier, she said.

“The Arab community are highly skilled,” Ramirez said. “A lot of them have advanced degrees.”

But many who do not speak fluent English work minimum-wage jobs, such as washing dishes, she added.

People who work low-wage jobs often Because wages are low in the area, “a lot of people live in one apartment,” which could result in bad hygiene. Many residents also struggle to pay their rent or mortgage, and buying healthy food is a secondary concern, Ramirez said.

One of every two children in the Rundberg area receives food stamps, she pointed out.

Although the health assessment was conducted to bring the area’s health barriers to light, Ramirez said she hopes the forum will spark ideas about how to break them down.

“How would [residents]like their health and health care to improve?” she said.

Rundberg is a very diverse area of Austin with about 30 languages spoken, Ramirez said.

“It’s like a small New York City,” she said.

She said Rundberg could serve as testing grounds to address issues such as health care and affordability that affect other parts of the city.

“How we deal with Rundberg will help us figure out how to deal with other areas,” she said.

The forum will take place April 11 from 10-11:30 a.m. at the Guerrero-Thompson Elementary School Library, 102 E. Rundberg Lane. Childcare, translation and snacks will be available. For more information visit https://stevieray.ci.austin.tx.us/blog/latino-health-care-forum-community-forum.

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