UNC Health Talk

UNC Center for Latino Health receives prestigious award from the government of Mexico

The Ohtli award is the highest award presented by the Government of Mexico in recognition of significant contributions to, and support of, Mexican people living abroad.

In a letter, Mexico General Consul Carlos Flores-Vizcarra explained that, “Ohtli is a Nahuatl expression that means ‘pathway.’ This award represents a gesture of gratitude to those who have helped forge the path for Mexicans living abroad to be treated with respect, dignity and appreciation. The Ohtli Award is given once a year.”

The award will be presented to Dr. Morgan “in recognition of his leadership to provide the uninsured and low socioeconomic status people – many of them of Hispanic origin – high quality medical attention through practitioners sensible to their language and cultural background,” said Flores-Vizcarra. The Award will be presented by Mexico General Consul Carlos Flores-Vizcarra on Dec. 17 at the UNC FedEx Global Education Center.

“This award is a tremendous honor for Dr. Morgan, the UNC Center for Latino Health (CELAH), and everyone involved in patient care at UNC. Their work exemplifies dedication to our mission, which is to serve all of the people of North Carolina, regardless of their ability to pay,” said William L. Roper, MD, MPH, Dean of the UNC School of Medicine, CEO of UNC Health Care, and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs.

Previous Ohtli Award winners include Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, Bill Richardson, former New Mexico governor, Raul Izaguirre, founder of the National Council of La Raza, Ed Pastor, Arizona congressman, and Arturo Rodriguez, President of the United Farm Workers.

The UNC Center for Latino Health (CELAH) was established in 2008 in the School of Medicine and Health Care System to provide specialty and primary care for Spanish-speaking patients, to promote clinical research, and to train health care providers to serve the population. Innovative features of the care model include the medical home, patient navigation, and coordination of patient appointments with bilingual CELAH faculty and staff. In 2011, CELAH formally merged with UNC Interpreter Services to provide a spectrum of care within the health care system.

Key UNC personnel who have made this award possible include Claudia Rojas, Program Manager, Elizabeth Prata FNP and Care Coordinator, and Mayra McCarty, Program Administrator. Lead faculty members include Marco Aleman, Sylvia Becker-Dreps, Ben Calvo, Romulo Colindres, Luis Diaz, Maria Ferris, Aida Lugo-Somolinos, Stephen Kizer, Susan McKenney, Cristina Muñoz, Shiara Ortiz-Pujos, Elizabeth Prata, Alfredo Rivadeneira, Patricia Rivera, Daniel Reuland, and Mae Lynn Reyes.

The Ohtli Award reflects the longstanding relationship between the North Carolina Consulate of Mexico in Raleigh and CELAH. Initiatives have included ongoing public health and personal health education measures for the Mexico and Latino populations in North Carolina. The North Carolina Consulate of Mexico is the busiest in the U.S., reflecting the marked growth in the local population over the past 15 years.

In addition to directing CELAH, Morgan is Associate Professor of Medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, and Director, UNC Program in Nicaragua for the UNC Institute for Global Health (IGHID). He is also the co-director of the SOM Office of International Activities.