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The UNC Center for Latino Health (CELAH) recognizes its 10 year anniversary, announces a new cardiology clinic, and celebrates CELAH Center Manager Claudia Rojas as “Community Service Person of the Year.”

The UNC Center for Latino Health (CELAH) recognizes its 10 year anniversary, announces a new cardiology clinic, and celebrates CELAH Center Manager Claudia Rojas as “Community Service Person of the Year.”

Claudia Rojas, CELAH Program Manager
Joshua Vega, MD

The UNC Center for Latino Health was established to address a critical need, a shortage of linguistically and culturally competent physicians to care for a growing Latino community in North Carolina. Last month, CELAH celebrated its 10-year anniversary, having served more than 15,000 patients since its inception. Claudia Rojas has managed the program since it began, acting as navigator and primary access point for patients, particularly those with limited English proficiency. Now, a new cardiology clinic is set to open in September, led by Dr. Joshua Vega.

Claudia Rojas – Awarded for Community Service

A native of Cucuta, Colombia, Rojas came to North Carolina in 1998 with her family and husband, Dr. Mauricio Rojas. She recognizes health is broad, not just the physical absence of disease, but the well-being of the family and community in which they live. She promotes primary care and disease prevention at health fairs and community events, recognizing the cultural barriers that Latinos experience when it comes to health care, working hard to be a trusted resource.

“I am the primary contact, and I love to help patients navigate the health system. Typical questions are about medication side effects, pain experienced over long spans of time and how to order refills. I explain the importance of keeping their medical appointments and taking the correct steps to make the experience successful.”

To commemorate Rojas’s 10 years of contributions to CELAH, La Noticia will recognize her with the “Latino American Excelente Award,” naming her “Community Service Person of the Year” during a signature event for the Latino community on August 25 in Raleigh. The award will celebrate her energy and compassion for making a difference in the lives of countless Latino beneficiaries.

“I’m honored to be selected for this award and to see this program benefit many people over time. CELAH promotes preventative care and saves patients from going to the emergency room unnecessarily. Patients have access to same day clinics, and the program is a great liaison between doctors and patients, to help determine the best course of action for any health need.”

New cardiology clinic opens September 6 with Dr. Joshua Vega

Dr. Joshua Vega recently completed his general cardiology fellowship at UNC and says he wanted to do something meaningful to improve Latino health. Now, as a faculty member in the division of cardiology and physician with the UNC Physician Network, Vega will build on the foundation of cardiology care that Dr. Mauricio Cohen started in 2008.

“This clinic will provide general cardiovascular health care services and outreach to the growing Latino community, increase advocacy for the Latino population, increase research on Latino cardiovascular health issues, and focus on training next generation professionals to treat this patient population.”

Vega will launch the new Latino cardiology clinic at Meadowmont Heart and Vascular on September 6. The clinic will be open every first and third Thursday. Vega welcomes cardiology referrals identified as Spanish speaking.

10 Years of Service to the Latino Community

Founded by Dr. Doug Morgan, Dr. Marco Aleman and Dr. Daniel Reuland, CELAH was established in 2008, in the School of Medicine and Health Care System, to provide specialty and primary care for Spanish-speaking patients, promote clinical research, and train health care providers to serve the population. CELAH formally merged with UNC Interpreter Services in 2011 to provide a spectrum of care within the health care system. Then, in 2016, it transitioned to become part of the division of general medicine. Rojas says this transition created a better system, one where everyone wins.

“Providers, students, and the system itself are integrated cost efficiently to make processes work smoothly. Interpreters can now be better allocated, especially when there is already a CELAH team member onsite to help with language barriers. At the same time, residents are being trained to treat this patient population.”