2021

California Latinos’ use of emergency medical services increased disproportionately during pandemic


A report by UCLA FSPH researchers found California Latinos’ use of emergency medical services increased disproportionately during the pandemic.

emergency medical serviceman

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Latinos in California were relatively unlikely to use emergency medical services. But during the pandemic, across much of the state, Latinos’ use of such services — specifically seeking treatment for respiratory ailments — increased more than it did for non-Latino whites, according to a new report  by UCLA researchers, including Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health professor of health policy and management, and Dr. Hiram Beltran-Sanchez, Fielding School associate professor of community health sciences.

The report - written for the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative - compares figures for the first six months of 2020 to statistics for the same period in 2019. They analyzed data from the California Emergency Medical Services Information System, which includes information from all of the state’s 33 local emergency medical service agencies with the exception of Los Angeles County.

“Although the study doesn’t directly account for about 30% of California’s Latinos who live in Los Angeles, other studies on the impact of COVID-19 on Latinos in L.A. would suggest that the same phenomenon would hold true in Los Angeles,” said Esmeralda Melgoza, a doctoral student at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a co-author of the report.

The study’s findings suggest that emergency medical services statewide have an opportunity to improve their language and cultural literacy to better serve the needs of their Latino patients, according to the report.

Esmeralda Melgoza
Esmeralda Melgoza

The study identified factors that kept Latinos from using emergency services prior to the pandemic, including their concerns about the costs of emergency medical care and a fear that interaction with public safety officials could endanger their immigration status. But their use of emergency services for urgent respiratory illness increased by a greater percentage than it did for non-Latino whites after the pandemic began.

The authors concluded that disparity occurred largely because of the toll COVID-19 took on Latino essential workers and families in multigenerational households. They found that in the early months of the pandemic, white Californians were 10% less likely to call for an ambulance or for emergency care than Latino residents.

Numerous studies, including research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have shown that Latinos were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Only one-third of California’s 50-to-64-year-olds are Latino. But, from the beginning of the pandemic through August 19, 2021, more than 64% of Californians in that age group who died from COVID-19 were Latino.

“The pandemic made it clear which demographic groups face the worst outcomes during a public health crisis, and we have a unique opportunity to use those lessons to ensure that our medical services are better prepared to serve those populations in the future,” said Bustamante, faculty director of research at the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative.

The report recommends ways for emergency medical service providers and public safety officials to adapt to better serve Latinos, now that the pandemic has made more Latinos aware of, and comfortable with, emergency services:

  • Increase outreach to Latino residents to inform them how to access emergency medical services and ease their concerns about costs and immigration risks.
  • Hire staff who speak Spanish and have the cultural competency to work with Latino patients.
  • Offer financial assistance to lower-income customers to help ensure cost isn’t a barrier to life-saving care.

by Lys Mendez


The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, founded in 1961, is dedicated to enhancing the public's health by conducting innovative research, training future leaders and health professionals from diverse backgrounds, translating research into policy and practice, and serving our local communities and the communities of the nation and the world. The school has 761 students from 26 nations engaged in carrying out the vision of building healthy futures in greater Los Angeles, California, the nation and the world.

Faculty Referenced by this Article

Dr. Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Arturo Vargas Bustamante
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez
Hiram Beltrán-Sánchez
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Annette Maxwell
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Beth Glenn
Beth Glenn
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Kristen Choi
Kristen Choi
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Aria Fallah
Aria Fallah
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Frederick Zimmerman
Frederick Zimmerman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Elizabeth D'Amico
Elizabeth D’Amico
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Yusuke Tsugawa
Yusuke Tsugawa
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Alice Kuo
Alice Kuo
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. John Lu
Z. John Lu
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Kimberly Gregory
Kimberly Gregory
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Aronberg, Sandra
Sandra Aronberg
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Kimberley Shoaf
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Robert Kim-Farley
Robert J. Kim-Farley

Robert J. Kim-Farley, MD, MPH, is a Professor-in-Residence with joint appointments in the Departments of Epidemiology and Community Health Sciences

Community Health Sciences Epidemiology
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Neal Halfon
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Michael Prelip
Michael Prelip
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Corrina Moucheraud
Corrina Moucheraud
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Steven Teutsch
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Isomi Miake-Lye
Isomi Miake-Lye
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Sarah Blenner
Sarah Blenner

Director of Field Studies and Applied Professional Training

Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Stephanie Taylor
Stephanie L. Taylor

Nationally recognized health services researcher and sociomedical scientist with 25+ years' experience in effectiveness and implementation research.

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
David Eisenman
David Eisenman
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Wendelin Slusser
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Natalie Muth
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Daniel Eisenberg
Daniel Eisenberg
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Alina Dorian
Alina Dorian
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Comanor, Bill
William Comanor
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Lori Pelliccioni
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Jennifer A. Wagman
Jennifer A. Wagman
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Anthony Schiff
Anthony Hunter Schiff
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Michael Goldstein
Michael Goldstein
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Julie A. Elginer

EMPH Academic Program Director with expertise in healthcare marketing, finance, and reproductive health policy, teaching in the EMPH, MPH, MHA program

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Dylan Roby
Dylan Roby
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. William McCarthy
William J. McCarthy
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
silhoette
Ty Robbins
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dena Herman
Dena Herman
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Brennan Spiegel
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Roshan Bastani Headshot
Roshan Bastani
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Vickie Mays
Vickie Mays
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Thomas Rice
Thomas Rice
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Warren Scott Comulada
Warren Scott Comulada
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Sangeeta Ahluwalia
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Chandra Ford
Chandra Ford
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Kadiyala, Srikanth
Srikanth Kadiyala
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Sean Darling-Hammond
Sean Darling-Hammond
Biostatistics Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Michael Rodriguez
Michael Rodriguez
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Emmeline Chuang
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Dana Rose Garfin
Dana Rose Garfin
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Barbara Berman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Naomi Zewde
Naomi Zewde
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Courtney Thomas Tobin headshot.png
Courtney S. Thomas Tobin
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Laura Erskine
Laura Erskine
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Jessica Gipson
Jessica Gipson
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dana Hunnes
Dana Hunnes
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Virginia C. Li
Virginia C. Li
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Elizabeth Yzquierdo
Elizabeth Yzquierdo
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Alan Tomines
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
David Hayes-Bautista
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Galper, Michael
Michael Galper
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Emily Abel
Emily Abel
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Freund, Deborah
Deborah Anne Freund
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
James Macinko
James Macinko

Professor of Community Health Sciences & Health Policy and Management, and Associate Dean for Research

Community Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Jeanne Miranda
Jeanne Miranda
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Michelle Keller
Michelle S. Keller

Dr. Michelle S. Keller is a health services researcher whose research focuses on the use and prescribing of high-risk medications.

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Ilan H. Meyer
Ilan H. Meyer
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Balgrosky headshot
Jean Balgrosky
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Philip Massey headshot
Philip Massey
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Diana Hilberman
Diana Hilberman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Paula Tavrow
Paula Tavrow
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Anne Pebley
Anne Pebley
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Robert Kaplan
Robert Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Davidson - headshop
Pamela Davidson
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Samuel Sessions
Samuel Sessions
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Paul Chung
Paul Chung
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Joann Elmore
Joann G. Elmore
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Lillian Gelberg
Lillian Gelberg
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Gerald Kominski
Gerald Kominski
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Jonathan Fielding
Jonathan Fielding
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Nadereh Pourat
Nadereh Pourat
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Gordon headshot
Thomas D. Gordon
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Thomas Priselac
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Samuel Stratton
Samuel Stratton
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Ondine S. von Ehrenstein
Community Health Sciences Epidemiology
Read Faculty Profile
Moira Inkelas
Moira Inkelas
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Risha Gidwani
Risha Gidwani
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Gilbert Gee
Gilbert C. Gee
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Jody Heymann
Jody Heymann
Epidemiology Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Burt Cowgill
Burt Cowgill
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Mangione, C
Carol Mangione
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Olivia Jung
Olivia Jung
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Paul Fu, Jr.
Paul Fu, Jr.
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Jose J. Escarce
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Rosenstock
Linda Rosenstock
Environmental Health Sciences Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Dawn Upchurch
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Mark Litwin
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Felicia Hodge
Felicia Hodge
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Cathy Lang
Cathy Lang

Assistant Dean for Research & Adjunct Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences

Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Avram Kaplan
Avram Kaplan
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Kenneth Wells
Kenneth Wells
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Donald Morisky
Donald E. Morisky
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. May Sudhinaraset
May Sudhinaraset
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Elizabeth (Becky) Yano
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Charlotte Neumann
Charlotte G. Neumann
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Ninez Ponce
Ninez Ponce
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
May Wang headshot
May C. Wang
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Leah Vriesman
Leah Vriesman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Yvonne Flores
Yvonne Flores
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
glik, deborah
Deborah Glik
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Ron D. Hays
Ron D. Hays

@UCLA since 1997

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Image of Dr. Susan Ettner
Susan Ettner
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Randall Kuhn
Randall Kuhn
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Clifford Ko
Clifford Ko
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Patricia Ganz
Patricia Ganz
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
halbert, ronald
Ronald Halbert
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Michael Ong
Michael Ong
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Shira Shafir
Shira Shafir
Community Health Sciences Epidemiology
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Judith M. Siegel
Judith M. Siegel
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Ron Andersen

Dr. Ron Andersen is the Wasserman Professor Emeritus in the UCLA Departments of Health Policy and Management.

Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Marjorie Kagawa-Singer
Marjorie Kagawa-Singer
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Jack Needleman
Jack Needleman
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Sheba George
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Arlene Fink
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Bo-Kyung Elizabeth Kim headshot.png
Bo-Kyung Elizabeth Kim
Community Health Sciences
Read Faculty Profile
Faculty/staff profile placeholder image
Robert Brook
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Xi Zhu
Xi Zhu
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile
Dr. Jennifer Wortham
Jennifer Wortham
Health Policy and Management
Read Faculty Profile

Related Content

CHPR_2024_firearms_suiciderisk_thumbnail
April 30, 2024
Access to firearms for Californians aged 15–24 associated with increased suicide risk
Source: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Read Full Article
Dr._Ying-Ying_Meng
April 16, 2024
In memoriam: Dr. Ying-Ying Meng, 68, scholar of environmental health and director of research at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research
Source: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research Read Full Article