Alaska Primary Care Association “Helping my community,” Beysi Collantes’s goal
by carlos matíAS
“My goal is to help my community,” says Beysi Collantes, the only latina at Alaska Primary Care Association in Anchorage. Beysi, of Venezuelan origin, is a nursing assistant in Alaska and her work focuses mainly on informing the hispanic population in a truthful way, and raising awareness about the importance of vaccinations against Covid.
“Idon’t understand why everyone finds it normal and necessary to get vaccinated against all the typical diseases and with the Covid-19 vaccines there are so many doubts and fears; so many people don’t want them, when the vaccine can save their lives.” This is how emphatic Beysi Collantes, the only Latina in the Alaska Primary Care Association (APCA), which works to raise awareness among the Hispanic population in Alaska, specifically in Anchorage, is about the importance of getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. Sol de Medianoche talks with her to learn about the importance of her work. Beysi, born in Venezuela, is a nursing assistant and is participating in a pioneering experience, “which consists of helping the Hispanic community in their social integration and their access to the health system.” A pioneering experience, because in the United States it has only been implemented in Oregon, Arizona, California, Washington, and now in Alaska. “I am the second class of assistants in this program,” says Beysi. “Once I finish my work, I will get certified to be able to work in some hospital, health center or vaccination center to continue working in the healthcare field.”
Giving clear and truthful information Beysi Collantes has a great advantage in this job: she speaks the same language as the Hispanic population. “This helps, because in addition to facilitating communication, it establishes a certain relationship of proximity with the people. But the hard part is gaining their trust. There is a lot of misinformation, a lot of false myths and beliefs, a lot of confusion about Covid vaccines. Most of the media want to give truthful information, but they give it in English, and it is difficult for Latinos to understand, especially for those who are not fully integrated in the community, and for newcomers.”
Alaska Primary Care Association (APCA) is an association founded in 1995 by clinic administrators and physicians to advocate for the right of all Alaskans to basic health care, overcoming geographic, financial, or cultural barriers. It is a non-profit organization that advocates for health policy and provides technical training and assistance to Community Health Centers; that teaches and supports new generations of Community Health Workers. “I want to work with my community because I have been in their shoes before and I know what they are going through,” comments Beysi. “Now I work by giving clear and truthful information about Covid, and try to combat superstitions and false beliefs.” Beysi Collantes is based at the Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) headquarters: 1345 Rudakof Circle, Suite 104, Anchorage, Alaska, 99508. ALP is an organization with the goal to change the lives of minorities and promote their employment and social integration. “In my office,” says Beysi, “I can serve anyone who needs it. I usually see an average of ten to twelve people, although there are days of fifteen people. I also go to vaccination centers, hand out flyers, give out information... Although some people get angry when I try to inform them about the advantages of getting vaccinated.”
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE NEWS, LLC. Sol de Medianoche is a monthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska