‘Con Confianza y En Comunidad’ celebrates two years of community support – PUBLIC HEALTH INSIDER

This week marks the second anniversary of an initiative created to support the Spanish-speaking community during the historically difficult time of the pandemic.

“A unique space, by Latinos, for Latinos and in our language,” according to Dr. Matias Valenzuela, director of the Office of Equity and Community Partnerships at Public Health – Seattle & King County.

This space is “Con Confianza y en Comunidad: Hablando sobre COVID-19 y temas que nos afectan” (In confidence and in community: Talking about COVID-19 and the issues that affect us), a series created at the beginning of the pandemic through a collaboration between community and public health – Seattle and King County. Here, members of the Latinx community come together to share updates and resources related to COVID-19 and other health and wellness topics.

“Con Confianza” began as a response to the lack of information available in Spanish, but quickly became a safe space where the public can interact directly with community leaders and public health personnel who speak their language, know their culture and understand the challenges facing the Latin American community.

A second year full of challenges

“In the first year of the pandemic, we quickly realized that the Latin American community was one of the hardest hit in terms of cases and other issues such as economic insecurity,” Dr. Valenzuela said. . Additionally, “many of us were essential workers.”

Meanwhile, the Latin American community has not been able to count on the same level of support – “because, for example, as immigrants, not everyone had access to benefits such as unemployment “, said Valenzuela.

In the second year of the pandemic, while some areas of support improved, economic issues continued to be a concern for many in the community. Even though there was initially a moratorium on evictions, many people were still very stressed about having to pay rent, being unemployed or having to leave work to care for children.

Con Confianza team members supported the community by providing information on resources available from King County and other organizations, including mask distribution, isolation and quarantine assistance , leasing assistance and business resources.

As our community faced these obstacles, new challenges arose all the time. The arrival of COVID-19 vaccines was a great relief for many, but many obstacles existed to getting vaccinated. The public was also grappling with questions, doubts and misinformation amplified by social media.

“We continued to experience similar things to the first year – fear, not knowing what was going to happen and misinformation,” said Con Confianza organizing team member Gabriela López.

A zoom meeting with nine members of the Con Confianza organizing team waving and smiling at the camera.
Members of the organizing team of Con Confianza in 2020.

Fight against misinformation

One of the most challenging aspects of this second year of the pandemic has been how quickly information has changed: about the vaccine, mask mandates, guidelines for schools, home testing, and much more. . Sometimes the information seemed to change from day to day.

“We were all learning almost at the same time as new information was coming out and we all had the same questions,” López said. It was therefore sometimes difficult to provide up-to-date information to the community without generating confusion.

“Every time there was a new development, we entered a phase of trying to provide information again. People were afraid, had doubts or simply did not know what was going on. Every time another step was taken, we were facing the same public health challenge: people did not know what to believe and what not to believe,” López said.

“Are vaccines safe and effective? Will they ask for supporting documents? I’ve already contracted COVID, so why should I worry? said Valenzuela, listing some frequently asked questions.

“The level of misinformation has been very high,” he acknowledged.

Con Confianza stuck to its original strategy of working with community leaders and authorities the public could trust. Among the many guests who made appearances at the weekly meetings, Dr. Julián Pérez of the Sea Mar Community Health Center and Dr. Helen Stankiewicz of the University of Washington became indispensable members of the team, attending dozens of times to answer questions from community members.

“It helped a lot when someone with knowledge, with a good reputation, who was a medical authority, like Dr. Helen for example, spoke up,” López said.

She gave an example: “We had a meeting with many doctors present where they discussed what was in the vaccines. I remember that I sent this video to many WhatsApp groups, including a group in which there were people who did not want to be vaccinated. And the majority of people in that group said to me, ‘Yeah, that was great, it’s great that you sent it to us!’ »

The use of various platforms also made it possible to disseminate this information to more people and broaden the reach of the group. If a community member can’t join the Zoom meeting, for example, they can watch the live video on Facebook or view the recording later both there and on YouTube.

“There are videos that have up to 900 views on YouTube on a day when there were maybe 30 people on Zoom,” López said.

Around the third year

What will next year bring? One thing the Con Confianza team agrees on is the importance of mental health to the community.

“The subject of mental health is something that continues to be not only interesting, but also very concerning,” said Giselle Zapata-García, COVID-19 Latinx Community Response Coordinator.

Two years of wearing face masks, being cooped up at home, not having in-person classes, all coupled with high stress levels has caused mental exhaustion for many.

“There is a feeling of fatigue in the community, real fatigue,” López explained. “And not just for the Latino community – for everyone.”

Con Confianza has hosted several presentations on mental health issues over the past year that have generated a lot of interest from the public. This will continue to be a priority in the coming year.

Still, with or without the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that this group’s work won’t be done anytime soon.

“As long as there are infections, as long as there are hospitalizations, as long as not everyone is vaccinated or has not received their booster, there is always a place for Con Confianza to continue to to be a place of trust for people. to receive information,” López said.

“We must do everything we can to support Con Confianza y En Comunidad so that it can continue at some level, even if the pandemic is over,” added Zapata-García.

“We have seen that the community feels that this way they can come together and share their concerns, and it helps us to see how we can better support the community. It allows us to have the long-term trust of the community,” she said.

“We had an open forum, with different voices, and we answered all kinds of questions,” Valenzuela said.

“Now our community has the information it needs to make decisions. We still have work to do, but we should be proud of what we have achieved.

Join us!

We would like to thank all of the guests who have joined us over the past two years and generously given their time, as well as the members of the community who continue to attend and ask questions.

If you want to participate in Con Confianza y En Comunidad, join us every first and third Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. on Zoom or on Facebook Live on @CondadoDeKing!

If you have ideas for other topics or guests, email us at [email protected] Your suggestions are welcome.

Originally published May 19, 2022.

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