COVID-19 clinics aim to serve Hispanic community in Hampton Roads


HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — A higher-than-average number of COVID-19 positives combined with a lower-than-average number of people getting tested. Those perilous trends summarize how the pandemic has affected the Hispanic population in Hampton Roads.

“In the Hispanic population, the numbers of the people carrying the COVID-19 is increasing,” said Fancir Alcala of the Hispanic Resources Center, an organization that didn’t even exist prior to the coronavirus pandemic. It partnered with Sentara Healthcare and other organizations to set up three clinics Tuesday at no charge.

“Most of the people in our community, sometimes they are afraid to go to the emergency room, they don’t have insurance in some cases,” Alcala said.

The resource center got the message out through radio stations and church pastors that the testing was free at First Baptist Church of Norfolk.

“Some places, they charge like $200 to take the test, and right here it’s free, so that’s good,” said Marcos Bravo Morales.

Sentara’s Chief Diversity Officer Dana Beckton says cultural sensitivity was a must, so there was no need for identification.

“There’s a fear for some(in the Hispanic community) that ‘ICE will come and pick me up if I don’t have documentation,'” Beckton said.

And just having medical staff who speak their language goes a long way in knocking down barriers.

“They see people that they know and trust and that is what brings them out,” Beckton said.

“Equity is really about getting the individual what they need when they need it, which is what we’re doing,” said Iris Lundy, director of Health Equity for Sentara Healthcare. “We’re trying to go right into the community and provide free testing for those who need it most and those are our vulnerable populations.”

The staff at the three clinics Tuesday were ready to do a total at least 200 tests in Norfolk and at the Central Library and the Convention Center in Virginia Beach.

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