A two-year program just announced by UNC Charlotte’s College of Health and Human Services will help address health disparities among Charlotte’s Hispanic community. A graduate assistant will provide health-risk screenings, exercise programs and other services through the Bethesda Health Center, a free clinic near the University City Boulevard Transit Station on North Tryon Street.
The two-year program is made possible by a $44,000 contribution from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.
The Bethesda Health Center is a free clinic housed within the Camino Community Center that serves low-income, uninsured people in Mecklenburg County. The non-profit provides adult primary care, diabetes and hypertension management and health education programs.
Bethesda has served over 3,500 patients and provided health fairs and as more than 8,500 doctor visits since it opened its doors in 2004. The clients at the Bethesda Health Center, housed in the Camino Community Center in north Charlotte, are almost exclusively Latino or Hispanic; 35 percent of those that take advantage of the free clinic have diabetes.
High levels of diabetes and other conditions
In the U.S., the Latino and Hispanic populations are at high risks of metabolic diseases such as Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. An estimated 22.6 percent of Latinos and Hispanics have Type II Diabetes, while 49 percent of them are unaware that they do, making early detection and intervention particularly important in these communities.
Health risk screenings that can be performed include:
- Lifestyle Questionnaire – identifies modifiable lifestyle factors affecting health risk
- Body Composition (% body fat, body mass index) – to identify overall risk of chronic disease
- Blood Pressure – identifies risk of hypertension
- Blood Lipid Profile – identifies risk of cardiovascular disease
- Blood Sugar and HbA1c Measurement – identifies risk of diabetes
- UNC Charlotte student to provide screenings and more
Graduate assistant will screen, design programs and more
Graduate assistant Anna Tart, a student in the Department of Kinesiology, will design activities and administer health risk screenings for clients at the Bethesda Health Center. Throughout her assistantship, Tart will document her activities and programs, set goals, monitor and measure their success and create a handbook that can assist other community health centers in establishing a similar program.
“I have always wanted to find a way to put together the two things I love the most, exercise and Spanish. This position has given me the opportunity to do just that,” said Tart. “I am hoping that by the end of my two years here at Camino I will have implemented an exercise program that will bring in a different variety of people.”
All tests are initial screenings, and people with elevated risk factors will be counseled to visit physicians for follow-up and official diagnosis.
Program seeks to help clients prevent or reverse diseases
Lifestyle behavioral modifications are just as important as health screenings because they are an inexpensive way of preventing, and often times, reversing the progression of risk factors or overt diseases.
The Department of Kinesiology Health Risk Assessment Program focuses on physical activity interventions and can provide these services for individuals at the Bethesda Health Center deemed healthy enough to participate.
A typical client’s program might include group exercise classes, text message-alerts, and follow-up health-risk screening to monitor improvements.
Three UNC Charlotte Colleges are working with Camino Center
Three colleges from UNC Charlotte have an ongoing relationship with the Camino Community Center. Representatives from the College of Health and Human Services, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and College of Education and are part of the Academy for Research on Community Health, Engagement and Services (ARCHES).
ARCHES develops and supports impactful research and training partnerships and programs for reducing health disparities among vulnerable populations in high-risk communities.
– This article was provided by UNC Charlotte