Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Healthy Hopes: Pennsylvania’s first Latino Health Summit addresses needs of rapidly growing Latino population.

Nurse Christiane Delgado, who is also coordinator of the Latino Heath Summit

Pennsylvania has the 13th-largest Latino population in the nation, according to the latest Pew Research Center report.

Like all Pennsylvanians, Latinos need and deserve quality healthcare. But often, due to cultural, immigration and language issues, they don’t get the services they require to stay healthy.

That’s where the Latino Health Summit comes in, a new event planned for Wednesday, April 4, by Latino Connection in collaboration with the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) and AETNA Better Health of Pennsylvania. The Summit is focused on bettering the health and wellbeing of this rapidly growing population, which currently is at 1 million people. This number continues to rise due to the influx of families moving here following Hurricane Maria.

“The purpose of the Health Summit is to have meaningful conversations about the top health disparities that affect Latinos and to address what everyone in healthcare is doing and, can do, to appropriately serve them,” said George Fernandez, CEO of Latino Connection and GACLA commissioner.

The one-day event includes panel discussions hosted by top healthcare professionals across the commonwealth and breakout sessions, where attendees can chose from shorter lectures that best suit their specific interests. There will be breakout sessions addressing lung disease, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity—the top-five most pertinent diseases that affect this community, according to Fernandez.

Universities have been invited to have booths in common areas to promote higher healthcare education. Attendees can receive continuing medical education (CME) credits for attending the Summit. Advance registration is required. Tickets include breakfast and lunch and can be purchased at

The Summit will also feature a Vendors Expo from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., which is free and open to the public.

While his company focuses on helping Latinos, Fernandez said that he feels a personal connection to the healthcare struggles of Latinos. He added that he believes that the healthcare community can do a better job at providing quality care that is relevant to the Latino population.

“I’m taking on something that most people would say, ‘You’re crazy for taking on,’ because it’s not my responsibility to take on this task,” Fernandez said. “But for me, it’s filling a gap. It’s filling a void in the community in which I serve and call home.”

Fernandez moved to Harrisburg from the Dominican Republic when he was 8 years old. His mother spoke no English, so he quickly took on the role of translator and caretaker.

“A lot of the services that we offer today were the challenges my mother faced when I was growing up,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez said he hopes that the Latino Health Summit can be a catalyst to end that cycle. The event is planned to be annual, but he acknowledges that there are many different forms it could take and is open to the possibilities. Some of the future topics that he hopes to incorporate are Latino and LGBTQ issues and autism.

Although the Summit is geared towards those in the healthcare industry, anyone is invited to attend.

The Latino Health Summit will take place on April 4, 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit

About Latino Connection: Latino Connection is a marketing and communications firm with a network of resources focused on connecting businesses and organizations within the Latino community. Their mission is to provide high quality translation and interpretation services while educating the Latino community in finance, jobs, health and other areas that present opportunities for growth and advancement. For more information, please visit or call 717-963-7218.

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