Volunteers Bring Medicine to Mass

Feb 26, 2018

More than 120,000 people from Mexico and Latin America live here in Virginia without legal documents. That makes it hard for them to get affordable healthcare.

Medical students and faculty at the University of Virginia are stepping up to help.

On a Sunday afternoon, hundreds gather at Charlottesville’s Church of the Incarnation to worship, socialize and confront one of the most serious problems in their community. 

Latinos have the lowest rate of knowing that they have high blood pressure, and for that reason and others, they are the minority group with the poorest control of blood pressure.

Dr. Max Luna
Credit Dan Addison / University of Virginia Communications

So Dr. Max Luna and several student volunteers are ready when mass ends to screen for hypertension.

Maren Leibowitz tells her patient that this week’s blood pressure is still a little high, but it’s better than what it was during her last few visits.  That’s good news, says Max Luna, because hypertension causes terrible medical problems. “Heart attacks, strokes, but also we deal a lot with diabetes education and prevention," Luna says.  "The Latino community has the highest rate of diabetes among all ethnic groups.  There’s a genetic pre-disposition to it as well as their lifestyle.”

Those with serious conditions are referred to another service started by Dr. Luna, the Clinica Latina, part of Charlottesville’s Free Clinic. 

Click here to learn more about the Charlottesville Free Clinic