OU Health Experts Discuss Medical Concerns In Oklahoma’s Latino Community

Tuesday, November 16th 2021, 9:22 pm


The state's Hispanic population continues to grow, but medical experts said proper health care isn't treading upwards because of certain factors.

Doctors at OU Health said the Latino community often gets left behind for various reasons. They said things like immigration status and language barriers that play a role in quality of care.

“Genetics, environmental, economic factors. It is easier and cheaper to buy an unhealthy meal than it is a healthy meal,” said Dr. Fernando Mier, a general surgeon at OU Health.

“The smile that you get when you walk into a room and you ask them ‘Español or English’ and they automatically are like, ‘oh my god, thank you, someone speaks Spanish!’” said Dr. Juan Claros-Sorto, a surgical oncologist at OU Health.

During a medical panel, the doctors said cancer, obesity, diabetes and hypertension are top concerns for Latinos in Oklahoma.

“From immigration status, language barrier, insurance status, transportation. There are other cancer centers. However as soon as you leave the metro area, you have these big, deserted areas when it comes to access of care,” said Claros-Sorto.

Dr. Janeth Gomez said Latinos are genetically more susceptible to type 2 diabetes.

“It is really important to know that physical activity doesn’t mean running a marathon or going to the gym. It can be just walking around the park or around the block,” said Gomez, who specializes in internal medicine at OU Health.

“For the Hispanic population, the biggest thing we need to understand is we can keep on cooking with our same flavors with our own foods without making it an unhealthy meal,” said Mier.

Dr. Federico Silva stressed the importance of routine checkups with the prevalence of hypertension.

“It is known as the silent killer, because it could cause no symptoms at all for years while it is wreaking havoc through your body,” said Silva who specializes in vascular medicine at OU Health.

They said public health is a community effort with people taking preventative measures and hospitals hiring more bilingual physicians to care for patients.