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NC Services Adapt to Growing Latino Population

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GRAPHIC: 25 people from around North Carolina will travel to Mexico for a week-long immersion into the language and culture. It's part of the Latino Initiative sponsored by The Center for International Understanding.
GRAPHIC: 25 people from around North Carolina will travel to Mexico for a week-long immersion into the language and culture. It's part of the Latino Initiative sponsored by The Center for International Understanding.
 By Stephanie Carroll Carson/Skip Wood, Public News Service - NC, Contact
October 8, 2012

RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina's growing Hispanic population is prompting public services like local health departments to rethink how they communicate with the Spanish-speaking citizens in the state. During the spring 2011 tornadoes through Wake County, Sue Lynn Ledford, director of the Wake County Health Department, says her agency struggled with finding ways to communicate health concerns to Hispanics affected by the natural disaster.

"Probably the bigger gaps were understanding the culture and what would be acceptable and normal in their situation."

Ledford and 24 others are leaving today for a week-long immersion trip to Mexico to gain an understanding of how better to help North Carolina's Spanish-speaking population. The program is part of the Latino Initiative, organized by the Center for International Understanding, a part of the University of North Carolina.

Martha Brinsko is the adult nurse practitioner for the Charlotte Community Health Clinic, where 60 percent of the patients are Hispanic. She and a team of others from Mecklenberg County are working on a web portal for community information specifically geared to the Spanish-speaking population. She will also travel to Mexico today and is looking for guidance on how their website should be developed and distributed.

"Being able to link them to community services has been a real challenge. The more we understand their culture and how they link to services in their home country, the better we will be able to provide that here in the United States."

Since 1998, 700 people in North Carolina have taken part in the Latino Initiatives program organized by The Center for International Understanding. Alumni have enacted changes, such as creating mobile health clinics for Latino communities, and established a Latino Community Center.

More information is available at http://ciu.northcarolina.edu.

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