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The state of health and rate of illnesses in a community depend on various factors, including the presence or absence of stereotypes towards certain populations. Another important factor is the degree of health care equality for vulnerable populations. This paper will discuss the community of Miami, which has a range of problems in the health care system.
The Perception of Health and Illness in the Community
The major health issue of the community is obesity. According to the statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2013), 67.4% of adults in Miami-Dade County are overweight. In addition, according to the statistics, the rate of obesity among high school students reaches 12%. The major causes of the obesity in the community are low physical activity and unhealthy diet. For example, adults do not eat fruits and vegetables, and students miss physical-education classes. The findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention coincide with my own perception. Many people prefer eating fast food, which negatively affects not only their weight but also causes various diseases. For example, some community members suffer from diabetes and heart disease. Despite negative health trends, the residents of Miami continue to drive to work instead of walking or cycling. Therefore, low physical activity and poor diet have negative effects on the health status of the community.
The Impact of Stereotypes on Health Care of Patients
The community members still face stereotypes in the healthcare system. In particular, I observed negative stereotyping toward Latino patients. During my visits to the hospital, I noticed that some nurses and physicians treat Latino people worse than they treat whites. They do not say anything rude to patients, but it is possible to feel some sort of disrespect. Their behavior and manner of speaking demonstrate that healthcare professionals think that Latino patients deserve less respect due to their race, level of education, and income rate.
The disrespectful attitude of healthcare professionals towards Latino patients that I observed had negative effects on the provision of health care services to the patients. First, the patients felt uncomfortable during their interactions with the healthcare professionals. Latinos could not trust their nurses and doctors, so they decided to ignore some of their recommendations. For example, the patients did not believe the doctors that doing sports could help them address their heart disease. Second, the Latino patients felt depressed due to experiencing racial stereotypes. These people worked hard to integrate in the American society: they studied the English language, built professional careers, and learnt American traditions. Therefore, they felt disappointed due to the negative attitudes of healthcare professionals. Latino patients could not understand why they were treated differently than white citizens. For them, it seemed like a punishment for the deeds they did not commit. Finally, their recovery from illnesses was slower than usual due to the abovementioned causes.
Health Care Inequalities for Vulnerable Populations
Apart from stereotypes towards Latino patients, I also observed health care inequalities in this population. Kathryn H. Jacobsen (2014) discovered that immigrants often have reduced access to healthcare services in their new community due to low income, language barrier, and dangerous jobs. For example, I know a family of Latino immigrants. They came to Miami a few years ago from Mexico. The woman stays at home because they have three small children. Therefore, only the husband works and earns money. The man does not speak English fluently, so he had to choose a risky career in the sphere of building. This job does not bring high income, so the family cannot afford to pay for a medical insurance. They visit a physician when they really need help. In other cases, they use alternative ways of treatment. For example, they normally consume various herbs to deal with the symptoms of influenza. Besides, their relatives give them some medicine free of charge. This allows the family to avoid spending on medicine.
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However, I observed a situation when the husband had to visit a healthcare facility. He injured his hand at work, so he went to the doctor to receive first aid. The healthcare professional observed the hand and sewed the wound. Then he told the patient to go home because the man did not have any health insurance, so he could not receive any other healthcare services. Immigrants understand that they need to purchase a health insurance at least for their children, but it is too expensive for them. The healthcare professionals from the hospital close to their home do not want to make any indulgences to them. The hospital’s representatives explain that the rules are equal for everybody.
In conclusion, the main health issue of Miami is obesity. This problem has appeared due to unhealthy diet and low physical activity of the community members. The observations of the local people proved the general health trends determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Besides, people seem to have additional health issues due to obesity, particularly heart disease and diabetes. In addition, some community members, such as Latinos, suffer from racial stereotypes and health care inequalities. Thus, observations of interactions between Latino patients and health care professionals allowed to determine that some nurses and physicians treat Latino individuals worse than they treat white people. The healthcare professionals behave as if Hispanic patients do not deserve much respect and care. This attitude has a negative impact on the quality of treatment because Latino patients do not trust their doctors. Moreover, Latino immigrants experience health care inequalities due to the absence of health insurance and language barrier.