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Amanda Merck: Propelling Civic Engagement in San Antonio and Beyond


Amanda Merck

Amanda Merck isn’t only a content curator for Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, a public health representative for the Active Living Council for a Healthier San Antonio, and a teacher of group classes for Fitness in the Park. She is a fighter for equitable transportation, equitable access to parks, and an advocate for children who experience trauma. Merck is a poster child for civic engagement for health equity─and she is dedicating her time and career to help countless others become civically engaged, too. ‘Never Any Talk about Civic Engagement’ Merck grew up in many different places including California, Texas, and Montana. As the daughter of a low-income, high-school dropout, working was meant to pay the bills. “There was never any talk about civic ...

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From Living in a Sick Home to Making Others’ Healthy


Hayward Sick Home Score

Bill Hayward learned a disturbing truth when he ventured into the crawlspace underneath his home. For a year, he, his wife Adriana, and other members of their family experienced consistent migraines, mood swings, extreme fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and a host of other health problems — with no root-cause explanation. They sought help from experts and professionals alike to no avail. Using a last-ditch, do-it-yourself test, Bill discovered their home itself was full of mold and that it was responsible for their symptoms. "It's terrifying and heartbreaking," Adriana said. "I felt really hopeless; the medical profession not really knowing what to do with it and dismissing it. It was just a very dark and sad time for our family." Mold and other environmental factors can lead ...

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Alison Corcoran: Why We All Must Stand Up to Bias, Health Inequity



As a white woman living in Boston who grew up all around the world, privileged and well-educated, Alison Corcoran was a stranger to injustice and health inequity. “I’ve never been denied anything,” Corcoran told Salud America!. That all changed 11 years ago when she became a foster parent to her African American son. Experiencing Health Inequity and Bias First-Hand When Corcoran’s son joined the family, he was only in the first grade. During the family transition meetings, his social worker had told her: “Make sure you take him to the dentist soon – I don’t think he has ever gone.” So Corcoran took him to the family dentist for a cleaning and exam. During the appointment, it was no surprise that her son had multiple cavities. Then, it came time to visit ...

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This City Ditched its Car-Centric Traditions to Better Serve All Transportation Users


Road Diet on Union Street to include bike lanes

Fred Dock knows that, as cities grow, managing transportation gets tougher. Dock, who headed up transportation for Pasadena, Calif. (34.4% Latino), also knows many cities overly focus on reducing automobile congestion and boosting speed, thus neglect walking, biking, and transit. Two things happen in these cities. Roads become dangerous for people walking and biking, and people are forced to depend on automobiles—the dirtiest, least efficient, and most expensive mode of travel. Dock wanted to help Pasadena out of this trap. Pasadena city leaders hoped to create an integrated, multimodal transportation system with choices and accessibility for everyone. But they wouldn’t achieve this vision using current auto-centric road metrics—that’s when Dock stepped up to ...

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Dr. Jabraan Pasha: Tearing Down Implicit Bias in the Doctor’s Office


Jabraan Pasha implicit bias training doctor and leader

In training, doctors and other healthcare providers are taught to disregard their own personal upbringings, and that of their patients, from clinical decisions. But doctors are susceptible to their unconscious bias. Dr. Jabraan Pasha is changing that. Pasha created a workshop to spread awareness of implicit bias─the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions unconsciously─in the healthcare system. “The workshop aims to make us realize we are not bad people because of [implicit bias],” Pasha said. “We have these biases that are there. Agree or not they are there, and this can help people take steps to correct it.” “It’s important to remove shame and guilt.” Pasha’s Discovery of Implicit Bias Pasha, a native of Tulsa, ...

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Kelly Capatosto: Shedding New Light on Implicit Bias


Kelly Capatosto implicit bias training

What is the motivation behind your day job? For Kelly Capatosto, it is her family and the Latino population. Capatosto, who started exploring implicit racial bias in school discipline at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University, wanted to help her family and make them proud. At the same time, she is making a huge impact on health equity for her community. Capatosto and the Kirwan Institute are generating significant research and training on implicit bias—the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions unconsciously. Implicit bias has a big impact on Latino health equity. "When we got the funding to start working this implicit bias training, we were also living in a different world than it is today," ...

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4 Latino Leaders Eliminating Food Insecurity in Texas



U.S. Latinos face high levels of poverty, food swamps, and food insecurity—living without reliable access to enough affordable, nutritious food. In Texas, the food insecurity rate is 14.3%. That’s why Texas State Representative Diego Bernal championed legislation that would allow schools to set up school food pantries. Because of this law, schools are helping those who are hungry and food insecure as well as reducing food waste. The law has also inspired others to create change and do good for the community, like Jenny Arredondo, Samantha Almaraz, and Pablo Ramirez. Diego Bernal & School Food Pantries Bernal was heartbroken after touring Texas schools and seeing students go hungry, even as "perfectly edible food" was being thrown away in cafeterias. He wanted to ...

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Doctor Fights for Climate Crisis Intervention in Healthcare, Education


Pacheco Healthcare Climate Change

In 2006, Dr. Susan E. Pacheco experienced a stark paradigm-shift due to an inconvenient truth. She learned that the Earth—and those who inhabit it—could experience destruction and devastation at the hands of climate change. Once Pacheco gained that understanding, she says the only thing left to do was to act. “It’s just the knowledge,” Pacheco said. “Just knowing that this is happening and that medical students, residents, and doctors don’t have the benefit of that knowledge. I have to do something. I just can’t sit and keep this knowledge to myself. “That’s why I’ve been so engaged in educational activities that have to do with climate education because it cannot be ignored.” Introduction to Helping others Through Healthcare  Pacheco is one of the few ...

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