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Nashua's Public Health Division awaits a report on listening sessions with residents of color

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Allison Quantz for NHPR
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The listening sessions focused on barriers communities of color are facing in the health care system and their levels of trust in it.

The Nashua Division of Public Health and Community Services is expecting a report based on listening sessions they held with Nashua residents of color at the end of the summer.

The sessions were held by the University of New Hampshire’s initiative New Hampshire Listens.

Each of the four sessions were geared towards a specific racial, ethnic, or community group -- Black residents, Brazilians, Spanish speakers and New Americans. Language interpreters were available on-site. The sessions focused on barriers these communities are facing in the health care system and their levels of trust in it.

Jane Goodman, the division's service coordinator, says the conversations touched on a wide variety of topics, from cultural differences in health care to discrimination.

Goodman says the report will help the Nashua health division, as it begins to have conversations with health providers in the city about working with these communities.

The project is funded through a $50,000 Post COVID-19 Equity Grant.

Across the country, Black and Latino people bear a disproportionate share of COVID-19 cases and deaths. They are more likely to work in “essential” jobs that put them at higher risk of contracting the virus, and suffer at greater rates from many chronic pre-existing health conditions like diabetes that put them at higher risk of a severe COVID-19 case or death.

Low-income Americans are also more likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, and racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately low income. That also means they are less likely to have insurance and access to high-quality health care.

Ultimately, behind the COVID-19 disparities lay a deeper, systemic problem of health inequity.

While Goodman says the Nashua listening sessions have only just “scratched the surface,” she hopes the community conversations with both residents and providers can help increase trust and quality of care in the city.