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Latinos Urged to Consider End-of Life Care in COVID Era

Cecilia Vasquez-Vigil, from Texas, had to make end-of-life plans while battling COVID-19. She has since recovered. (Cecilia Vasquez-Vigil)
Cecilia Vasquez-Vigil, from Texas, had to make end-of-life plans while battling COVID-19. She has since recovered. (Cecilia Vasquez-Vigil)
June 16, 2020

SAN DIEGO -- Latinos make up 25% of the deaths from COVID-19, even though they're only 18% of the population. So a new bilingual campaign is helping lay out end-of-life care options.

The Mexican consulate's Ventanillas De Salud, or Windows of Health, program is teaming up with American groups that help people face end-of-life conversations. Patricia A. González-Portillo, national Latino communications and constituency director with the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, said the issue is particularly important for Latinos.

"We're the ones with the highest numbers of hypertension, diabetes," González-Portillo said. "And so it's very important that we talk about death, especially right now where going outside to get our tortillas and beans, we can catch this horrible illness that could kill us."

Experts recommend that everyone talk to their families about whether or not you want to be intubated or be put on life-support machines - and lay out preferences for a service and final resting place.

González-Portillo encouraged the public to check out the free online bilingual COVID-19 toolkit available at CompassionAndChoices.org.

"The most important thing you can do: fill out your advance directive," she said. "Because when you go to the hospital, that may be the last time that you see your family."

Maria Otero, also with Compassion & Choices, said Latinos need be their own best advocate - and let their doctor and families know their end-of-life wishes.

"Death is not a taboo in our community, but we don't like to talk about it," Otero said. "The pandemic has really given us the opportunity to start the conversation with our Latino/Hispanic communities."

The coalition is also sponsoring a series of webinars on end-of-life care available on their YouTube channel.

Disclosure: Compassion & Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement, Health Issues, Senior Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - CA