Fusing Cultures: Part 5

Dr. Schultz works at the Columbia Family Health Center three days a week. Almost 80 percent of his patients are Hispanic, because he speaks Spanish.

"It just sort of gets around when the provider speaks Spanish and then they tell their familiy and their family tells their friends and pretty soon you have a pretty good size population that comes to see you," Schultz said.

Documented and undocumented Hispanics go to health centers and emergency rooms to get care they can't get anywhere else.

"We seem to be a major provider in the community for the Hispanics, especially within the community we see a lot of under insured people and a lot of un-insured people," Sandi Lawson of the Northeast Family Health Clinic said.

More than thirty percent of Hispanics in Missouri don't have insurance. That's double the rate of whites and African Americans.

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"They can't get medicaid to cover their medicines or treatments if they need any imaging studies or a stay in the hospital. It's extremely difficult and they have to pay for everything," Schultz said.

Like everything else in health care, technology is also helping the doctor-patient relationship.

One of the family health centers has a phone that allows a doctor who does not speak Spanish to talk to a translator who then speaks to the Hispanic patient.

"You can't provide nearly the quality of care for a patient if you can't communicate with them that you can when you're speaking their same language and I've just found that they appreciate it so much being able to communicate and understand where they're coming from," Schultz said.

"A very important component is called cultural competence that service providers have to have so they can offer good health care, good services to the immigrants," Domingo Martinez of the Cambio Center said.

There is a lot of Spanish language health info on the internet.

"Medline Plus is a really good health information source. So to translate that into Spanish, means that people who's natural language or primary language is Spanish have access to high quality health information," Barbara Jones of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine said.

A Spanish speaker who got a prescription for amoxicillin to treat a sore throat can go online and find out how and when to take the drug and it's possible side effects. Information like this can be found in both Spanish and English.

Resources like these help Hispanics get a better shot at better health care.

"Hopefully in the days ahead the trend in medicine will be more towards truly taking care of people and meeting them where they are in their lives and taking care of them according to their needs rather than following the system that we have right now," Schultz said.

Reporter: Christine McCarty
Web Producer: Nick Meibeyer
Original Air Date: 6/2/05

aa Published: June 9, 2005
2005 , KOMU-TV8 and the Missouri School of Journalism. Some information courtesy Associated Press
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