Diversity and health

Monday, October 23, 2000

Lt. Gov. Sally Pederson and officials from the Iowa Department of Public Health, including its director, Dr. Stephen Gleasen, met with nearly 200 Storm Lakers this week to discuss the top health issues facing immigrants.

"Our job now is to focus on how to honor and care for new immigrants to this state," Gleasen said. "So in that regard, I want to have a dialogue about health so that we know in Des Moines... exactly what we need to do in the rest of the state to keep all Iowans healthy."

Along with state officials, city officials from Storm Lake attended as well as a large segment of the Latino population.

Dan Anderson, director of Iowa Central Community College's Storm Lake campus, facilitated the New Iowans Forum workshop portion of the meeting. He told those gathered that they were there to answer two questions:

* What are the top three public health needs of immigrants in Iowa?

* What can the state do to help local communities accommodate immigrants?

Some of the top needs brought up were a free clinic for low-income families, more translation and language services and dental care efforts.

One woman said bilingual doctors are necessary, "because we are depending too much on interpreters," she said.

Jim Sinek, Buena Vista County Hospital CEO, said better information needs to be provided to immigrants on how Iowa's health system works.

After all the ideas were presented, everyone had the opportunity to vote for their top three choices. The highest vote-getters were for translation, insurance, free clinics and dental care.

Read the rest of this article in the 10/21 Pilot Tribune.

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