In North Carolina, 9.6% of the population is Hispanic or Latino, but by mid-June, the Hispanic and Latino community represented more than 44% of North Carolina’s COVID-19 cases.
Prior to the pandemic, Latino communities faced greater health disparities. Now, some challenges are proving even greater under the stress of the coronavirus.
In Mecklenburg County, the Camino Community Center is a long-standing resource for Latino residents.
Since 2003, Camino has served Latino immigrant families in the greater Charlotte area. It offers a health clinic, mental health clinic, food pantry, thrift store, homeless outreach program and a variety of other health and human services.
Camino serves more than 25,000 people from more than 15 countries each year. With the pandemic, the center has seen an increase in demand from existing clients and an influx of new clients. In response, Camino used Blue Cross NC funds to expand food and health services.
In partnership with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, Camino transformed its warehouse into a delivery site for meals for school-aged children.
The organization increased hours at its health clinic. It also began offering video appointments with primary care doctors, counseling services and a health education hotline.
To address the lack of health equity and access to care, Blue Cross NC invested $40,000 in the Camino Community Center to expand its food pantry and health clinic hours and services.
“At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, we are aware of the impact COVID 19 has had on the state and especially in the Hispanic community,” said Gustavo Bernal, senior strategic advisor. “For this reason, Blue Cross NC decided to support Camino Community Center to expand access to care, food security and information in Spanish. Camino is one of the organizations that Blue Cross NC supports, not only for the well-being of the Hispanic community but also for other communities in North Carolina.”
Through this investment, the food pantry has been able to triple the number of people it serves weekly, and the clinic has started using a telehealth option and health education hotline to improve access to care and information while enabling people to practice social distancing.
“Because of Blue Cross NC, not only have we been able to feed 500% more people during this pandemic,” said Rusty Price, Founder and CEO of Camino. “We have been able to expand our capacity to continue this urgent work in a sustainable way.”
- In addition to taking advantage of the Camino Clinic’s extended hours of operation, uninsured North Carolina residents can now receive primary care and counseling services through the Clinic’s telehealth option.
- If residents have general questions about COVID-19, they can call the bilingual health education hotline to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and still stay informed.
- The food pantry extended its operations to triple the amount of food provided to those in need. Elderly residents and those with disabilities have access to a grocery delivery service from the pantry.
- Through a partnership with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, the pantry became a delivery site for meals, including breakfast and lunch, for school-aged children.
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