IDAHO — Diana Gomez is a bilingual outreach coordinator with St. Luke's. Her work is vital to getting COVID-19 information to Idaho's Hispanic and Latino communities.
"As an immigrant and someone who has grown up in Idaho in Boise, I know what's it like to have a language barrier," Gomez said.
To ensure Spanish-speaking individuals have access to COVID-19 information, St. Luke's has been translating information in Spanish, doing interviews with Spanish-language radio stations, connecting with local groups like the Hispanic Latino Task Force, and partnering with Southwest District Health and Healthwise to create PSA's.
Ruby Garcia does bilingual outreach at St. Luke's Wood River.
"Being able to be supportive and helpful and trying to link everyone together makes us a stronger community. It's an amazing feeling. I don't think there are really words to describe that," Garcia said.
Garcia and Gomez said that local community leaders, organizations, or nonprofits had helped bridge the gap.
"I would think that the collaboration between the organizations is key, especially in being able to disseminate the information in the light of the pandemic," Gomez said. "In light of not being able to be out in the community gathered as we would be otherwise. So that definitely is one of the ways we've seen is more effective when it comes to getting those populations. Really working together all of us."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 13 percent of Idaho's population is Hispanic or Latino. Those populations make up about 19.42 percent of the state's COVID-19 cases, based on the Idaho Department of Health Welfare data as of February 10.
Gomez said equity is a big focus in doing outreach work.
"Making sure that everyone in our community has access to resources that are culturally appropriate and linguistically available. It's a huge honor and grateful to do this work too, and I look forward to working with other organizations (other) partners," she said.
There will be a COVID-19 virtual panel discussion on Thursday, February 11, at 6:30 p.m. with Spanish translation, hosted by Blaine County. This is the link where you can register for the event. Everyone is welcome to attend.
For individuals that are eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine and don't speak English, St. Luke's has a number available to call and make an appointment at 208-381-9500.