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JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health to host a Spanish-only virtual panel to discuss lessons learned from the pandemic

The panel, which will convene on May 19, is the third installment of the Superando event in which experts address topics that concern Latinos, who, along with other minorities, are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

The JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health, a part of the University of Kansas Medical Center and a partner of RADx-UP (Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics – Underserved Populations) Kansas, will host a Spanish-only virtual panel at 7 p.m. on May 19. The panel, hosted in conjunction with the communications team at RADx-UP, will feature representatives from prominent community organizations across the state, including Ximena Garcia, M.D., senior advisor to Kansas Governor Laura Kelly for COVID-19 vaccine equity.

The panel, titled “Overcoming COVID-19 Together – What We Have Learned About the Pandemic” (Superando COVID-19 JUNTOS – Lo Que Hemos Aprendido de la Pandemia), will focus on lessons learned from the pandemic. This is the third installment of the Superando event in which experts from education, social services and health care address topics that concern Latinos who, along with other ethnic and racial minorities, are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Lucia Jones of United Health Care will moderate a panel of members that include representatives from the state government and Latino community. Local Health Equity Team (LHEAT) members engaged in the RADx-UP Kansas project for the past two years nominated and selected these panelists to represent their communities.

They include García; Denise Romero, community health worker with Salud + Bienestar (Sedgwick County); Yahaira Ibarra, a Health Equity Action Team Member in Healthier Lyon County; Randy López, president of the School Board for Kansas City Schools and vice president of community programs at Wyandotte Health Foundation; Justin Gust, health navigation program manager, El Centro Inc.; and Enrique Rodríguez, general manager, La Mexicana Radio Station.

Panelists will discuss how they build relationships and communicate with their respective stakeholders and how they plan to be prepared for future crises. Each panelist will share how they mobilized support and resources to improve pandemic crisis communication and protect their community.

“We are thrilled to continue this tradition,” said Mariana Ramirez, director of JUNTOS Center for Advancing Latino Health. “This event is just one example of how important our community partners have been in the effort to address the disparities we’ve seen among Latinos in our state. We’ve been able to draw from each other and build on our strengths to address this pandemic head on. I’m glad that we’re forging ahead together,”

Being proactive about future public health crises is an important lesson-learned from this pandemic. “Preparation is key. Learning where your emergency resources, including where you can receive food and bill and mental health assistance, is instrumental. Learning how to use those tools can help us buffer future crises,” said Romero, a panelist and a community health worker who works for the Salud + Bienestar program in Evergreen Community Center & Library, supporting North Wichita residents in Sedgwick County. Romero also wants to stress the connection between health and well-being to the attendees and share her personal experiences navigating through the pandemic. “You don’t have health, you don’t have well-being. You don’t have well-being, you don’t have health,” she said.

The virtual panel will be in Spanish and an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter will be available.

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