Loma Linda University School of Public Health has opened a health window at the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino, California. The reason is that “health is for everyone” (la salud as para todos) in the words of Ms. Carolina Zaragoza Flores, Mexican consul to San Bernardino, who made this point during the window’s inauguration November 9.
The window opened in late September to help connect Mexican nationals with health care services and information. It operates daily from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The university hopes to extend that throughout the afternoon, as well. Staffing it are school alumna Ms. Cindy Girón and current preventive care doctoral student Mr. Salim Serrano.
“We have seen a great need for information on the importance of integrating daily prevention practices in our clients’ lives, be it related to nutrition, physical activity, or family dynamics,” said Mr. Serrano.
The students also refer consulate clients to locations for affordable health care treatment, including Loma Linda University’s SAC Health System.
“Some who come to the window already know how to access health services in some form or fashion, but they're predictably in the minority, compared to those who are unaware of what we can provide for them,” he said.
“It brings us joy to see those who approach our window leave with a smile on their faces,” said Ms. Girón.
The School of Public Health also arranges educational presentations on health matters in the consulate waiting area, offered daily by health experts or representatives from community organizations.
Consul Zaragoza asked Loma Linda University to collaborate on the health window project.
“The consulate saw that it was wise to partner with an institution that has the capacity to provide the services that the targeted population is lacking,” says Mr. Richard Blanco, the health window coordinator and liaison from the School of Public Health to the consulate.
Mr. Blanco and Dr. Nellie Leon, assistant professor of global health, traveled to Mexico City in the summer of 2010 to meet with government officials and learn how other Mexican consulates in the U.S. run their own health windows. The San Bernardino consulate is now the 50th in the U.S. to participate in this program, called Ventanillas de Salud in Spanish.
In the future, the School of Public Health hopes to extend this kind of service to even more individuals in California’s San Bernardino and Riverside communities. People of Mexican descent make up a huge portion of the local population.
[Photo: Loma Linda student Mr. Salim Serrano speaks with a client at the health window.]