by Photo courtesy of Partnerships 4 Success

A local public healthcare non-profit organization is looking for ways to battle misinformation and build trust in public health guidelines and medical professionals among Latinos in South San Diego County communities. 

In response, the Institute for Public Strategies is creating a “bilingual reporting lab" by reaching out to the community. The nonprofit has created a community survey to understand who the community trusts and build partnerships to deliver resources. 

Community members who take the survey may enter a weekly drawing for a $25 gift card to Northgate Supermarket. 

IPS began Partnerships 4 Success (P4S) in 2019 to promote equitable opportunities among under-resourced Latino residents in the Southern Border regions of San Diego County. The project conducted community outreach and identified focus areas in National City, Nestor, San Ysidro, Sherman Heights, and National City to understand what community members experienced. 

“There is a lot of community trauma in the region, especially because we are a border region. Community members hear stories about border patrol agents beating people up, or remembering stories from the 1980s of agents racially profiling people because they loo Mexican or brown and deport them,” Breny Aceituno, program manager for the initiative, Partnerships 4 Success.

“This narrative is still rampant in the community today, and people have memories of these incidents," Aceituno continued. "That builds to the distress that many community members experience [with] government officials and public health officials".

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated many issues and has drawn attention to health disparities among communities. According to Aceituno, the pandemic hit San Diego’s southern region hard, reinforcing a need to build a bilingual reporting lab. 

Having a bilingual reporting lab helps community members “have a direct connection to the resources available to them”, Aceituno said. 

“A lot of folks [in the region] are essential workers. They're in the front line," Aceituno said. "They're the ones who have multiple people in their homes and sometimes multiple generations, so there is a pretty huge risk.” 

The initiative draws inspiration from Oakland’s  El Tímpano, which provides resources to Latino and Mayan immigrant communities. Their resources are available through the website but primarily through text. 

“They didn't have trust and were afraid of doctors divulging their medical or their migratory status to Immigration and Customs Enforcement or any other enforcement officers out there,” Aceituno said. “They built this lab to make sure community members are aware of what the process looks like and talk to them about what is real, what is happening, what doctors can and cannot do.”   

Latinos are avid users of social media and messaging platforms “because of the trust and intimacy they offer and their unique role within the community to connect people to family and friends both in the U.S. and abroad,” according to a 2021 Nielsen report

Despite its connectivity capabilities, the study said, “outsized use of this technology also makes these apps prime for spreading misinformation, particularly among Latino communities.” 

Partnerships 4 Success is about halfway to their goal of 300 responses from the South Bay region to complete the survey. Participants can remain anonymous, and no personal information will be divulged by IPS or anyone with knowledge of the program, according to Aceituno. 

“We're just trying to be a one-stop-shop for access to resources and accurate information, specifically when it comes to public health,” she said. “We hope to use that momentum to get other partners and funding streams to help us build something long-lasting that can truly serve the community with accessing resources.” 

Parnerships 4 Success will be hosting a neighborhood canvassing event in National City on May 27 at Vallarta Supermarket on 901 Euclid Avenue. 

Partnerships 4 Success expects to have the results of the survey by the end of June. The bilingual reporting lab is expected to launch in the spring of 2023. 

To access the survey, visit here.

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