The Mexican-origin population is currently Oregon's largest minority, making up eight percent of the state's population. Additionally, more than eighty percent of this population is of Mexican ancestry. In fact, Oregon has the eighth largest Mexican-origin population in the United States.
The number of Mexican-origin people in Oregon has more than doubled in the last decade, making them the largest and fastest-growing minority. This is true nationwide as well, and while their numbers continue to grow the status of available health care and other services has not grown to meet these conditions. While managing financial and cultural vulnerability in the US, Mexican-origin people must cope with a complicated health care system where economic forces drive both structure and function.
Having an interest in women's health care as well as the culture and language of
Mexican-origin peoples, my thesis was developed primarily to see if such vulnerabilities, barriers and discrepancies existed for Mexican-origin women as compared to their non-Mexican-origin counterparts. I have employed observations, literature review and in-depth interviews with health care professionals and Mexican-American women within Oregon in order to investigate my thesis. For the purposes of simplicity I have chosen to study how they interface and receive care for one particular illness: Gestational Diabetes Mellitus.
Many barriers were found for this population and many problems unique to their culture and heritage. But heightened awareness and desire to help on the part of the health care professionals could be a remedy. Deep commitment already exists on the part of many Mexican-origin women to do the best they can for their families (and unborn babies). And a number of financial and educational services and other resources were found. The key, it seems, is to educate Mexican-origin patients on how to access what resources exist, and to educate health care and other service providers on the specific problems of this culture.