Dr. Omar Gonzalez calls for urgency in COVID-19 education
(PHOENIX – May 12, 2021) – For a Dignity Health in Arizona hospital epidemiologist, the urgency of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is personal. Dr. Omar Gonzalez, a Peruvian immigrant, has witnessed firsthand the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on Hispanic and Latino communities while treating patients in Phoenix. He warns the virus will continue to hit these groups hard if vaccination numbers don’t improve quickly – a concerning trend he is committed to reversing.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that Hispanic or Latinos are more than three times as likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 as white people. Hispanics or Latinos are also more than twice as likely to die from the virus, according to the CDC.
Despite these sobering statistics, Hispanic or Latinos only make up a small percentage of the number of people vaccinated in the United States, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In an effort to encourage this demographic to get the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Gonzalez is bringing culture into the conversation. Born in the coastal city of Trujillo, Peru, Dr. Gonzalez makes it a point to answer questions and speak to community leaders and groups in their shared native language.
“They need to see action, and feel as though there are people representing them in the medical field,” said Dr. Gonzalez. “They want answers from someone they can relate to and trust.”
Growing up in Peru, Dr. Gonzalez’s life revolved around medicine. His mother was an anesthesiologist, and her career inspired him to earn a medical degree from the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima before furthering his education in the states.
However, Dr. Gonzalez realizes, not every Hispanic or Latino family has the opportunity to have a comprehensive understanding of the health care system.
“It’s important for me to educate my community, and provide my peers the factual information and resources they need to confidently receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Gonzalez.
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