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MSU-led teams and volunteers helping health services reach Latino community in Gallatin County

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Posted at 7:32 AM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 16:07:29-04

Bridging the gap of community, university, and health partners for the Latino immigrant community of the Gallatin Valley.

“There is a lot of work here, there’s a lot of jobs here; a lot of our families are coming because their spouses are in construction, so we have a big boom of construction going on right now,” Susie Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez is a board member for Proyecto SALUD, President of Montana Immigrant Justice Alliance Board, as well as a nursing student at Montana State University. Rodriguez has worked alongside SALUD —Scientists And Latinos United Against Disparities—to bridge the community of immigrants to health services offered in the Valley.

Dr. Sally Moyce, an assistant professor at Montana State University, leads a team of students, community partners, and students working to meet the needs of the community.

“What do they see as the solutions? We have a lot of knowledge and expertise, but we don’t know what the community needs and how they may respond to what we offer. We really believe in a community-driven approach,” Moyce said.

One approach that proved successful for the team was Community Health Fairs, so far the team has hosted three. These health fairs offer Latino immigrants a baseline of medical information. One student that assists with this project is Madeline Metcalf, a senior economic student at Montana State University.

“We do basic health and preventative health screenings. Our medical students at MSU do blood pressure, height, weight, body mass index, which gives you a nice overview. They can then meet with a nurse, or nursing student, that can help interpret those results to them in Spanish,” Metcalf said.

The three different health fairs have seen over 100 people with plans to host more in the fall.