I was recently sent to the Emergency room after visiting the urgent care for something I was just trying to be cautious about. Immediately I thought, this has to be the most times my family has been to the hospital all year. My husband has had his share of hospital visits and the kids have also. As Latinos we avoid hospitals for many reasons. I now realize that I’ve probably been to hospitals more than anyone in my family.
My family hardly ever went to the doctor. Hospital visits unfortunately, were terrible memories because our visits usually involved terminal conditions. It was never just a stay in a regular hospital bed, that is unless someone was giving birth. The hospital stay were usually ICU and sad.
I asked my parents why they thought our people avoid the hospital. My parents stressed that we are raised different and hospitals were often times a luxury. Soon we had compiled a list of reasons why Latinos avoid hospitals. I couldn’t help to think that each one was true for at least one member in my extended family.
Here are 10 reasons why Latinos avoid Hospitals
1. Fear of getting bad news- Hospitals are obviously for emergencies. As much as we don’t like hospitals, we don’t like going to doctor visits either. The chances of getting bad news are even higher for us for avoiding proper care.
2. No insurance- The censuses of 2012, states 30% of our people are uninsured. That statistic hasn’t increased or decreased.
3. Language barriers- Many Latinos avoid doctors visits because of the language barrier. Even my father prefers his doctor to speak Spanish. While this is certainly a valid preference for doctor visits when we are ill we must really prioritize care over wants.
4. Expensive co-pays- Those who are insured don’t use their insurance. While we don’t know for certain the statistics for those who avoid due to co-pays, I will admit that I’ve delayed going to the hospital at one point because my co-pay was outrages.
5. No sitter for kids- As parents we worry about our kids first. If we don’t have someone to watch our children, delaying a doctor appointment or hospital visit is never second guessed.
6. No time to take off work- We pride ourselves in being providers. I know both my parents have sacrificed being ill at one point because they felt it was more important to work. They needed to provide for us. Taking time off work was not an option.
7. Contagious illness- I don’t know how many times i’ve heard this. While I do believe some illnesses are contagious this should not be a reason to avoid hospitals.
8. The cultural expectations of always being “OK”- As providers we must be OK. There is not time, energy, or finances for health delays. We can be bleeding and we will say everything is OK when in fact things are not good at all.
9. Home remedies are better- I grew up with home remedies. Herbs and plants, natural teas and homemade ointments with rituals were the way we were cured from illness. My culture believes in home remedies because that’s all they’ve had and all they’ve known. While some remedies are amazing not all illness can be cured with home remedies.
10. Can’t afford medicine/ don’t like taking it- The census also brought to light that 72% of our people don’t take prescription drugs. While we can’t determine if it’s because they can’t afford them or because they don’t like taking them, I can only speak about my family. Taking medication was my families last resort. I saw both my grandparents stress about not being able to afford some medication. My grandfather was always looking for the next best thing that was affordable and natural. He really disliked taking his pills.
We shouldn’t avoid getting proper care
I stress to my family why ignoring health issues is never OK. Avoiding hospital visits when we are feeling sick can only make matters worse. Having fears and avoiding proper care only puts us more at risk for all the reasons we don’t like going to the doctor appointments and hospitals in the first place. It’s time we make a difference. I’d much rather be sure I am in great health than to wait and receive worse news when I am in critical conditions. Being healthy guarantees a longer life with our families. As mush as we pride ourselves in being providers, we must take action to get proper care when needed. If not, we will only be disappointing ourselves and feeling guilty for not taking care of ourselves when we needed to.
Have you ever avoided a doctor visit or hospital visit when you needed to get proper care?
Read more of Ruby’s writing at Growing Up Blackxican