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Greenville Business Magazine

A Look at Health Care Disparities

Jun 04, 2024 02:51PM ● By Meg Salt

(Photo, from left, Angelica Perez-Litwin, Wayne Fraleigh, Norma Jean Suarez, and moderator Suzie Foley)

Greenville is a rapidly growing city, with 40 people moving in every day. According to the 2022 U.S. Census, the Hispanic population in Greenville County is 10 percent, and is estimated to grow to 15 percent in the upcoming decades. This growth calls for more attention on the Hispanic community, which faces racial disparities that tie into healthcare. As the population increases, so could these inequalities.

Allied4 Health, hosted by the Hispanic Alliance and Bon Secours, was held Tuesday, June 4, at Greenville ONE Center.

The discussion centered on the research findings of the health care needs of Greenville’s Hispanic community. The three panelists were Angelica Perez-Litwin, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and founder and CEO of Lumin, a therapy and career coaching practice; Wayne Fraleigh, chief operating officer of Bon Secours Mercy Health-Greenville; and Norma Jean Suarez, executive director of Unity Health on Main.

The panel was facilitated by Suzie Foley, executive director of Greenville Free Medical Clinic.

The research findings reported the average depression rate in Greenville is 55 percent, while the average reported by Hispanics in Greenville was 73 percent. When asked if this was surprising information, Perez-Litwin said, “This data is exactly the same data I saw 20-25 years ago.”

Another discovery from the research was that 59 percent of people in the Hispanic community are less likely to report having routine health care appointments, compared to the rest of the population.

A recurring answer from all the panelists was the need for bilingual healthcare specialists and the importance of building trust and fostering relationships with health care providers. Speech barriers can result in doctors misdiagnosing patients.

Suarez said it was vital to form an authentic relationship with health care providers. Fraleigh agreed, saying, “I believe health care is personal, especially on a local level.” 

Foley ended the panel questions with, “What is your vision for the Hispanic community in Greenville in the next 20 years?” All three speakers focused on one word, “representation.” Suarez said she hopes to see inclusion and health care access for everyone, Fraleigh said he wants to continue Bon Secours’s commitment to the community and focus on the underserved. Perez-Litwin emphasized economic mobility and said she hopes to see a high number of Hispanic business owners.

The next Allied4SC panel will take place in August in Charleston, focusing on art.