Laura Vargas, PhD, on Amplifying Nursing

Tune in to the latest episode of the Penn Nursing podcast, Amplifying Nursing, featuring PISC Postdoctoral Fellow Laura Vargas, PhD, and Penn Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics' Senior Fellow, Adriana Perez, PhD. In this special episode, the two discuss the challenges immigrant communities are currently facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Dr. Vargas's experience partnering with a Montgomery County community organization, one of the greatest challenges she recounts is the loss of employment. Vargas states that the loss of a steady source of income has immediate impacts, including making these families food insecure, unable to access healthcare, and unable to access technology or internet for children's online learning.

"Getting sick and going to the hospital is an absolute last choice for a lot of these folks," says Vargas. She notes that there is not much self-advocacy for healthcare, perhaps due to lack of infrastructure for healthcare and other resources in the home countries of Latinx immigrant populations. The lack of self-advocacy she mentions is then reinforced by the hostile environment. When pursuing medical care as Latinx immigrants, she says there is also a constant fear of punitive measures.

Dr. Vargas also highlights the exclusion of Latinx communities from the CARES Act for those who may be undocumented or among a family with at least one individual who is not yet a naturalized citizen. Similarly, she says, the Payment Protection Plan, which is meant to provide loans to small businesses is not available to most in Latinx communities and all minority communities.

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