From navigating NYC’s streets to mapping the medical system

Published: September 02, 2020

Mayra Wanderley, a professional travel consultant who guided Brazilian compatriots for a decade on their vacations to her adopted hometown of New York City, is transferring her skills and establishing a career in Public Health education and research.

“I want to help immigrants maneuver through and better understand the complexities of U.S. healthcare and insurance systems,” said the north Flushing resident and mother of two pre-teen children.

“Real social, cultural and language barriers exits – for example, we speak Portuguese in Brazil, not Spanish – in every immigrant community. These issues prevent people from seeking and getting quality, effective health care, even here in Queens,” she said.

“Some people don’t know who to talk to, how to ask for help or understand how insurance should be used.”

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Mayra Wanderley, a travel consultant, is establishing a career in public health education and research.

Wanderley confronted a complicated and convoluted tangle of medical services and care in New York when her 11-month-old daughter was diagnosed with a spinal condition.

 “Eleven years later now and she has received excellent care, but [it was a struggle] to find orthopedic pediatricians, surgeons and more. I needed the the best for my daughter, and did not know where to start,” Mayra explained, “and I became determined to know who, what, where, when and how, down to every last detail.”

Today, the LaGuardia Community College transfer student is in the middle of her Queensborough AS in Public Health (with honors) and expects to finish next year. She has already started to conduct research on issues that link race, socio-economic status and neighborhood characteristics to social mobility, healthcare access and medical outcomes.

“We need to spend more time on prevention, early involvement, and providing better information to treat people in our diverse communities before their health conditions reach crisis level and require major interventions or exorbitantly priced prescription medications. We need health care information that is easier to understand and better access to care, earlier.”

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