Q. What growth have you noticed in Steamboat's Hispanic immigrant community?
A. The most dramatic growth trend we have seen in public health has been the increase of Hispanic cases. There have been months where we have added extra clinics in order to better serve the growing need. I would say the number of Hispanic caseloads has close to doubled in number.
Q. What services do you provide to this population? Have you hired Spanish-speaking workers to accommodate?
A. We provide the Hispanic community with the following services -- the WIC program (Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants, and Children), family planning, immunizations and a prenatal program.
We have hired two interpreters. One interpreter works solely with our nurse-family partnership nurse in seeing clients in their homes. The second interpreter comes to Steamboat Springs weekly to be available for the clients being served in the specific clinics listed above.
Q. Have you found that Mexican immigrants, particularly those here illegally, are afraid to come in for services?
A. We have had clients tell us they don't want "INS" to know about where they live, etc. We assure them that all information is confidential to the extent the law allows. We must report abuse and crimes.
Q. What other challenges do you face in providing services to this population?
A. The biggest challenge we face is the lack of funding. For example our interpreter is an unfunded position, which means we have to use monies allocated for other areas of operation to pay the interpreter's salary.
With another interpreter we could certainly serve our Hispanic community in a more timely fashion.
Another area that inadequate funding hits us is in our educational materials.
We need all of our information and inner-office forms to be available in Spanish, which again relates to the need for another interpreter. Overall the most burdensome challenge has been lack of funding.
Q. Is there one thing you would like the public to know about the Hispanic community her in Steamboat?
A. All residents deserve to be respected and provided with services that they are entitled to as productive members of society.
Many of our programs do not have the requirement of proof of citizenship and therefore we are able to serve them in those programs.
Personally, I have found the Hispanic clients to be extremely polite and their children well mannered. Family values seem to be strong in the Hispanic families we serve.