Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in 2020

In recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, the American Lung Association’s “Spotlight Series” will highlight impactful individuals and organizations within the Latino community that contribute to the effort to eliminate lung disease. Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by lung disease, and the Lung Association prioritizes addressing these disparities in addition to highlighting the contributions from champions of those communities. Below are spotlights of some fearless lung health champions in the Latino community.

Spotlight Series 2020: Latino Lung Health Leaders

Nancy Vandespool

LUNG FORCE hero, Nancy Vandespool is a lung cancer survivor and champion for lung health, originally from Puerto Rico. Earlier this year, Nancy learned that she had COVID-19. In her own words, “When I first was diagnosed with COVID-19, I felt as if I already knew because of my symptoms, which included fever and shortness of breath. Lung cancer hadn’t killed me, but now this happened. I had mixed emotions but was ready to fight. Being diagnosed with COVID-19 made me realize that I can always do more and I hope to support others living with lung cancer during this pandemic.” Read more about Nancy’s story here. We thank Nancy for sharing her courageous story with us!

Argelia Infante

Argelia Infante is a health education coordinator and a health navigator at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, NY. Argelia is a staff lead in a health system located in one of the highest burdened communities in New York City for asthma and one of the most diverse in the country. Argelia exemplifies the mission of the American Lung Association by being committed to providing her staff and patients valuable opportunities to improve health outcomes through health education and promotion and quality improvement work, in addition to supporting the Lung Association through workplace philanthropy. Argelia is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and George Washington University. We commend Argelia for her outstanding work to serve New York City’s most vulnerable!

Latino Connection

The Latino Connection marketing and communications agency, based out of Pennsylvania, was instrumental in ensuring the success of the American Lung Association-led Tobacco Resistance Unit, a statewide youth tobacco prevention and cessation program funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, by recruiting more than 200 enthusiastic youth members to participate. We thank the Latino Connection for its commitment to lung health!

Juanita Mora, M.D.

Juanita Mora, M.D. is an allergist/immunologist who has done extensive work around lung health in the Chicago area, including serving as a clinic partner with the American Lung Association. Dr. Mora's work with the Lung Association focuses on patient management and relations as well as providing asthma education in the community and to healthcare workers through Lung Association professional health care trainings. Dr. Mora’s main responsibilities as a clinic partner include referring pediatric patients for in-home allergen assessments, reviewing goals and objectives regarding the treatment of pediatric asthma patients, and team-building approach toward the management of pediatric asthma patients. Her research on allergic diseases and asthma have been published in the Journal Clinical Immunology and the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. She has presented on these topics with the Illinois Society of Allergy and Immunology and received an award for her promising research. We commend and thank her for her work during Hispanic Heritage Month! 

Luis Rodriguez, M.D.

Dr. Luis Rodriguez is the Chief of the Department of Pediatrics at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center. Dr. Rodriguez is one of two physician specialists who teach asthma pathophysiology during the American Lung Association’s Open Airways for Schools facilitator trainings. He has served on the national board and is a current member of the NYC Local Leadership Board.  He is actively involved with vital fundraising and participating in the signature NYC Fight for Air Climb and LUNG FORCE Walk.  This month, we commend Dr. Luis Rodriguez, for his important work improving lives through his work as a physician!

Lung Health Facts and Resources for the Latino Community

  • Communities of color are often disproportionately impacted by lung disease, which has caused other serious health challenges. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer, heart disease, and stroke—all of which can be caused by cigarette smoking—are among the leading causes of death among Latinos. Get tips in Spanish on how to stop smoking.
  • Notable health disparities exist in the Latino community. Research shows that more than 43,000 Latinos are diagnosed with and more than 18,000 die from a tobacco-related cancer each year. This is unacceptable and we will continue in the effort to eliminate lung disease in this community, and health disparities between Latinos and other demographics. 
  • We advocate for improved asthma outcomes in all communities, and during Hispanic Heritage Month it is fitting to acknowledge the impact of asthma in the Latino community that we are working to address. Did you know that as of 2018, 3.8 million Latinos reported that they had asthma, according to the US Department of Health? And Latino children are 38% more likely than white children to have asthma. Even more alarming, Puerto Rican children are 135% more likely. Let’s continue the effort to eliminate lung disease together and eliminate racial health disparities among lung disease. 
  • Lung disease impacts communities differently–Latino children are 71% likely to die from asthma, as compared to whites. The American Lung Association will continue to advocate for the right to breathe for all and continue to work to end racial health disparities. 
  • Did you know that the American Lung Association provides resources in Spanish? Sabe usted que la Association Estadounidense de Pulmones tiene recursos para usted sobre la salud de pulmones en español? Visita nuestra sitio web aquí para aprender: Lung.org/espanol
  • Would you like to speak to someone over the phone to get support in attempting to quit smoking? Contact our HelpLine for Spanish speakers ready to help

Page last updated: November 29, 2023

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