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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 5, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 29
Student Group Addresses Hispanic, Latino Health Care Needs

Shanti Shenoy, Elizabeth Kim, Luis Ticona, Sudip Saha and Kathy Fox are among the Programa Salud committee members who planned Saturday's conference.

By Amy Cowles

The third annual Programa Salud student leadership conference is set for Saturday, April 10, when close to 200 area college students and health care providers are expected to convene in the Mattin Center on the Homewood campus. Under this year's theme, "Working Within the System: Health Politics in Maryland and Beyond," the general session and workshops will address legal issues impacting the health of the nation's Hispanic and Latino communities.

"To really make a difference in the quality and access of care for the Hispanic community, it is important to change the system by creating laws that ensure linguistic access for limited English-proficient patients, as well as incorporate cultural competency into health care delivery," said Elizabeth Kim, a junior majoring in neuroscience who is Programa Salud's coordinator for this academic year.

The idea behind the conference is to teach students preparing for careers in medicine, public health and law about the needs and rights of their future clients who speak Spanish.

"We want to motivate other students to start similar programs at their own schools," Kim said. "We can make a bigger impact if there are more of us out there." It's a mission that has driven Programa Salud since four undergraduates created the health care initiative three years ago. Kim noted that one of Programa Salud's creators, Maria del Pilar Ortega, Krieger School class of 2002, is implementing the same program at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where she is now a student. In 2003, the American Medical Association gave Ortega and Programa Salud its Leadership Award for the group's commitment to alleviating the cultural and linguistic barriers facing Spanish speakers when seeking medical care.

The conference runs from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in room 101 of the Mattin Center. The speakers include Baltimore City health commissioner Peter Beilenson, who will give welcoming remarks at 10 a.m. The keynote speakers will be Olivia D. Carter-Pokras, associate professor of epidemiology and preventive medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and Mara Youdelman, staff attorney at the National Health Law Program.

Workshops will focus on health politics on the state level, legal issues and the rights of immigrants. They will be led by William Sciarillo, president and CEO of Baltimore Health Care Access; Pamela Bohrer-Brown, project coordinator for Hispanic Access Project; and Ricardo Flores, president of the Maryland Latino Coalition for Justice and staff attorney for the Public Justice Center. The directors of Programa Salud also will talk to the student attendees from George Washington University, Georgetown University, Loyola College, Towson University, University of Maryland School of Law and the Johns Hopkins schools of Medicine and Public Health about how to start and maintain their own student health initiatives.

The event also will help professionals in the public health, law and medical fields become more aware of the current and future health policies concerning Hispanic and Latino health, organizers said.

In addition to the annual conference, Programa Salud is involved in other outreach efforts including free interpretation services for hospitals and clinics, cultural competency workshops for medical students and community clinics, an after-school program in East Baltimore addressing Hispanic children's need for health education in nutrition and lead poisoning, and HIV/AIDS educational workshops for ESL students at a community center. Last spring, Programa Salud helped sponsor a health fair with the Baltimore City Health Department, Baltimore HealthCare Access and AmeriGroup in the spring.

Programa Salud's conference partners are the Baltimore City Health Department, Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, Baltimore Health Care Access, Johns Hopkins Alumni Association, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Center for Social Concern, JHU Bookcenter, Student Technology Services, Sign Man and the Office of the Dean for Student Life. For information and to register for the conference, go to or e-mail Elizabeth Kim at


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