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Imagine being ill or injured, and not being able to understand the doctors and nurses who are treating you. For many of the Latino members of Frankfort and surrounding communities, it’s a frightening reality. A recent Latino Health and Workforce Assessment conducted by Purdue University’s Center for Regional Development showed that 61% of the 558 Latino households surveyed in Clinton County said they had only, what’s termed “survival English” skills.
That, along with the growing Latino population, inspired leadership at the new IU Health Frankfort Hospital, which opened in Nov. 2020 across the street from the old Frankfort hospital, to act. President Kelly Braverman says everything about the new facility was intentionally and carefully designed to be inclusive and promote transparent communication, including bilingual signage throughout. To ensure accuracy, Braverman says they approached Spanish-speaking community members to verify grammar and guarantee clarity.
To further build relationships spanning cultures and language barriers, the hospital employs four team members who have achieved the Bridging the Gap certification for medical interpretation. They also added a MARTTI device, a platform with around-the-clock, on-demand interpreting in more than 250 languages – 60 of those in video interpretation. Interpreters have medical certification and knowledge of the cultures they serve, to ensure clear and accurate communication.
IU Health Frankfort Hospital has also partnered with the county coroner’s office to provide interpretation for family members of deceased patients to communicate with the coroner while in the hospital. During a difficult, confusing and highly emotional time, the ability to read and speak in their native language can provide comfort and answer complicated questions.
Braverman says these are a few small ways we are working to improve racial health equity, continuing to design the best care for Clinton County residents.
With the launch of the IU Health Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund in June 2020, philanthropy has become even more vital to ensuring equal opportunities in care to all Hoosiers, regardless of race or cultural background. Insurance providers do not cover interpretive services, which is one reason Braverman says it’s crucial to find other avenues of funding. At a minimum, she would like to see MARTTI devices installed in all IU Health facilities, and medically trained interpreters available to all patients.
This, Braverman says, is the key to achieving the mission of IU Health. Excluding an entire population because English isn’t their first language is a barrier that must be overcome. “If we don’t reach out to these communities, our goal to make Indiana a healthier state is not going to happen,” she says. “Philanthropy could help bring the whole system up and really improve care.”
To support initiatives like this, please consider donating to our Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund. Make your gift here, and under “Designation,” select “Statewide Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund
Your gift to IU Health's Racial Equity Fund can mean better health outcomes and improved career opportunities for all people.