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Focus On…The Latino Experience: First-Generations in the US Healthcare System With Carla Roussos, Community Relations Coordinator, Ryan Chelsea-Clinton

October 12, 2023
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The Latino and Hispanic communities in the United States are a diverse group. Both have unique experiences, cultures, and histories. As a result, first-generation Latinos and Hispanics can face challenges when using our complex healthcare system.

I am a first-generation Latina, born and raised in Bolivia. My family and I overcame language barriers when we arrived in the US. It took a long time before we felt comfortable using the US healthcare system. This is common for many families new to the US.

Knowing you are not alone and there is help is essential. Here are just a few of the things Latino and Hispanic families should keep in mind about the US healthcare system:

  • First-generation Latinos and Hispanics often face language barriers when seeking medical care. They often have limited English skills. It is hard to explain symptoms, understand medical jargon, or grasp treatment options. Because of that, they can be misdiagnosed, receive ineffective treatment, or be given inadequate health education.
  • Limited access to healthcare can make things worse. First-generation Latinos may have limited means or lack health insurance. They may not be aware of available resources. These can prevent timely and appropriate use of healthcare.

  • Cultural factors influence the Latino experience with the healthcare system. Machismo may discourage men from seeking preventive care because they don’t want to seem vulnerable. Familismo prioritizes family well-being over individual health needs.
  • Health disparities are common in the Latino community. They affect first-generation individuals more. These are caused by lower socioeconomic status, higher rates of chronic conditions, and a lack of preventive care. They can lead to poorer health and reduced life expectancy than non-Latino/Hispanic populations.

  • First-generation Latinos need culturally competent care. Culturally competent healthcare providers understand and respect diverse backgrounds. They bridge the language gap and provide patient-centered care. This develops trust with the Latino and Hispanic communities.
  • Community outreach programs like the ones at Ryan Health are important. They promote health education, preventive care, and affordable healthcare options. Ryan Health partners with local community organizations, that reach out to first-generation Latinos to raise awareness and provide access to services. This improves health and reduces health disparities.

First-generation Latinos and Hispanics can receive quality care through inclusivity, understanding, and access to healthcare resources. Initiatives among healthcare providers, policymakers, and community organizations can create a fairer healthcare system. Embracing the richness of the Latino and Hispanic communities ensures their well-being.

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Ryan Health proudly features culturally competent care at all our healthcare centers. Providers speak various languages and strive to make every patient visit comfortable and respectful. To schedule an appointment, use our Online Scheduler or call 212-749-1820.