The following blog post was written by Brenda Lormil, a recent recipient of NNLM NER grant funding. Brenda shares the work she and her team are doing to connect Haitian community members across Massachusetts to primary care and health resources in Haitian Creole.
From May to October of 2018, Haitian American Medical Association (HAMA) had the rewarding opportunity to serve and present health education to members of the Haitian community in the greater Boston area. The forums were predominantly held in Haitian Creole, the native language of the people, in order to facilitate comprehension of the presented material. In total, 17 sessions were completed that targeted teenagers, adults, and senior citizens in the Haitian community. The importance of primary care was one of the prioritized focus points of our educational forums.
When we began our project, it was our understanding that the Haitian community lacked primary care providers. We quickly learned that they do in fact have established care, however accessing the healthcare system is where the real problem resides. Language barriers, fear, suboptimal prior experiences, misunderstanding of the different levels of care (primary care vs. urgent care vs. ER) contributed to the lack of access to healthcare.
Many of the businesses, faith-based communities and schools had planned their summers in early spring. For this reason, we had to remain flexible and reschedule accordingly – an unexpected barrier during this project. This in turn caused us to extend our tour into October to accommodate certain locations (originally planned to end in August 2018).
We are most proud of the data collection we were able to obtain on our health education tour. We surveyed our audience after each session, and this allowed us to measure our impact and gain a better understanding of our communities needs. This information has now become a guide for HAMA in selecting topics of education for our 2019 health education tour. Yes, it was that good and we are doing it again! We thank our sponsor: National Network of Libraries of Medicine – New England Region (NNLM-NER) – for without their support this project would not be possible!
Visit HAMA’s website, to learn more about the Health Tour and their other projects.