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Soap Opera Gets Latinos In Tune With Health Care

"Encrucijada: Sin Salud No Hay Nada," or "Crossroads: Without Health, There Is Nothing," follows the lives of four health information workers and focuses on issues that affect every demographic, such as alcohol abuse and depression, and others that affect Latinos at disproportionally high rates, like diabetes and lack of insurance. Viewers are encouraged to call a toll-free number if they face the same issues the characters do on the show.

"Encrucijada" has a small but devoted following in Colorado ¿ about 17,500 households tune in each month, according to the Colorado Health Foundation. The foundation has spent $966,000 to produce and air the show.

Filmed in Southern California, its stars include Roberto Medina, whose credits include "21 Grams" and "Frida," and Socorro Bonilla, a veteran of Spanish soaps. Viewership is comparable to local ratings for the Spanish-language version of "Desperate Housewives," said Jesus Fuentes, who wrote "Encrucijada." That's one reason producers are moving "Encrucijada" from a monthly time-slot to weekly this Sunday.

In the first episode, a young woman known as "La Chiquis," a nickname given to daughters who share their mothers' name, gets drunk at a party and insists on driving home. A man at the party persuades her to let him drive her home. On the way, she tries to wrestle the steering wheel from him and they collide with another vehicle, injuring a boy.

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