Reading will host Latino health summit, hopes to address high uninsurance rate

  • Ed Mahon

In Berks County, one in four residents are Hispanic or Latino, and civic leaders there say access to health care is a major problem for many members of those communities.

About 11 percent of Hispanics and Latinos in the county lack health insurance, according to the latest U.S. Census data. For comparison, the uninsured rate for people who identify as white alone in the county is less than 5 percent. A similar disparity exists across Pennsylvania.

George Fernandez, CEO of the group Latino Connection, hopes a major health summit in Reading this June will help address the challenge.

“We can’t be a good employee if we’re not living healthy, right?” said Fernandez, whose group is organizing the event. “We can’t be a good mom or dad when there’s a language barrier and you can’t even communicate with your doctor about medical conditions”

This is the third year that Latino Connection is organizing a health summit in Pennsylvania. Last year, more than 1,000 people attended the summit in York.

Latino Connection is working with Reading Mayor Eddie Moran on a new engagement effort ahead of this year’s event. That effort will take the form of roundtable discussions with people in the community to identify areas of need.

“We’re going to make sure that everybody is heard,” Moran said.

The summit will take place June 12-13.

Fernandez said the first day of the summit will focus on providing resources for health care and human service providers. The second day will feature events for all community members. The group’s website palatinohealthsummit.org has more details.

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