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Navigating Language Barriers in Health Care

Navigating Language Barriers in Health Care
author apree health

Authored by Gisella Christensen, Medical Assistant at the apree health White City, OR Care Center

The apree health care center in White City, OR  prides itself on providing a standard of health care that transcends languages and cultures. For many of those served at our White City location, English is not their first language. Spanish is their preferred language and a large part of gaining their trust as a care team. 

Our care team in White City goes above and beyond a typical clinic, where the majority of the population has English as a native language. They help with translations, filling out forms in English and providing referrals when necessary, walking the member through the process in their preferred language. The care team works to alleviate the stress that comes with the language barrier so the members can feel at ease when coming in for routine care.  In a recent encounter, a Hispanic woman in her late 60s sought assistance from the White City care team for routine health issues. In this outreach, the staff was able to call out a gap in care – she was overdue on her annual wellness visit.

Recognizing the importance of comprehensive care, the staff promptly scheduled her for an annual wellness visit, an essential component of her overall well-being. During her visit, it became apparent that effective communication with the provider posed a challenge due to language barriers. Without hesitation, other members of the care team assumed the role of translators, ensuring seamless English to Spanish translation and fostering an environment conducive to open dialogue.

As the examination progressed, the provider uncovered a concerning spot on the patient’s leg – a detail the patient had noticed but dismissed as a benign consequence of aging. The provider’s concern prompted a thorough discussion regarding the imperative need for a referral to dermatology. The subsequent report delivered a sobering diagnosis – the spot was identified as melanoma, a potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer. However, thanks to the timely intervention facilitated by the center, the melanoma was swiftly removed, potentially saving her life.

The gravity of her situation left the patient stunned, yet profoundly grateful. Not only had the White City care team detected a critical condition in its nascent stages, but they had also equipped her with the knowledge necessary to identify warning signs and take proactive measures in safeguarding her health.

The White City care center operates with a commitment to excellence, compassion, and personalized care. It serves as a testament to the impact that tailored health care can have on the lives of individuals within the community. This care center, along with all apree health centers, remains steadfast in its mission to uphold these principles, empowering individuals to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.

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