This Latina Helps Her Community Fight Language Barriers With Her Medical Translation Badges

Photo courtesy of Yogi Henriquez.

In terms of health, there are several obstacles prevent minority communities from receiving the quality care they deserve. From cost to access to implicit prejudices against people of color, there are many reasons why black and Latin populations struggle to get the medical care they need.

The language barrier for Spanish speakers is one of the main issues affecting the quality of care patients receive. This reality has become even more apparent and more damaging during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which is why a medical student Yogi HenriquezThe work of is so important and more necessary than ever. Its medical translation badges will change the face (and the voice) of healthcare for people across the country.

The language barrier for the Latinx community is not a simple matter or a single problem; in some cases, patients have difficulty understanding what medical options and treatments are available to them. In other situations, patients are intimidated to seek help or cannot communicate with their health workers.

Some patients don’t even know what their medical options are or are confused by potentially life-saving medical advice and instructions.

Due to language barriers, people may not know where and how to get important drugs (like the Covid-19 vaccine) or may feel dissatisfied with the level of care they are receiving because they cannot speak with their families. doctors.

Yogi Henriquez knows this to be true on many levels, as a medical student and as a Latina. To call Yogi’s work impressive is a gross understatement – juggling pre-medical responsibilities and his medical translation badges is no easy task. But Yogi is inspired by her Spanish speaking patients who need her help. And she is also inspired by her mom.

“Growing up with an Ecuadorian single mom already had its challenges, but one of the things that stood out to me the most growing up was translating for her on all of her doctor’s appointments. I know there are so many children who can relate to this and people my age who have grown up being the voice of their parents, ”she said. Belatina.

Through her Tik Tok channel, she educates her subscribers – over 45,000 fans! – on the importance of the language barrier in healthcare and on what she is doing to change her medical badges into Spanish.

The language barrier and its impact on healthcare

Research shows the language barrier is a real problem, and it was a problem even before the Covid-19 pandemic.

A report 2020 Posted in Oman Medical Journal found evidence that language barriers in healthcare caused poor communication between patients and healthcare workers. This has reduced the quality of care received by these minority populations. The report reviewed 14 studies published in the PubMed and Medline databases, covering a total of nearly 301,000 patients. Researchers have found that translation tools can improve quality of care and patient satisfaction when language is a barrier to communication.

A 2018 study through The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that about 6 in 10 Latino adults have problems communicating with a health care provider due to language and / or cultural barriers.

Language barriers can have a negative impact on patient and provider satisfaction. “You don’t give the patient responsibility for their own health,” says Pilar Guerrero, an emergency physician at Stroger Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. “You kind of leave them in the dark,” she told the Chicago Tribune.

Medical translation badges help Spanish speakers get the care they need

Enter Yogi’s medical translation badges. think about her translation cards as a memory aid and quick translation cards for medical questions. It takes the most common terms and questions patients may have and includes English and Spanish translations of these incredibly important words and phrases.

Its maps allow patients to better understand their doctors and nurses. It allows healthcare professionals to translate what to say to their patients, allowing better communication on both sides. The better both parties understand each other, especially in a medical situation, the better the outcome and the more satisfied, safe and well cared for patients.

When patients are not heard or understood, a lot can be overlooked or misdiagnosed, and treatment will not be as effective. Although translators exist, sometimes this is not enough.

“I had just started working in the emergency room and saw how many Spanish speaking patients came in without knowing how to explain why they had come to the emergency room. The doctors were trying to get translators, but the phone service always took too long, ”Yogi said. Belatina. “I wanted to find a simple solution to bridge this gap between healthcare providers and patients to ensure that the patient receives the best quality care and does not come back worse. Not everyone has a family member who can come with them to advocate or translate for them. Because of this, so many symptoms are overlooked and so is the patient. “

Sometimes patients cannot access their patient portal and treatment plan or do not understand their medication instructions due to a language barrier. Likewise, doctors may not fully understand a patient’s medical history, symptoms, or concerns.

Yogi believes that these medical translation badges can be a big part of the solution to language barriers in healthcare, and she hopes they will help patients and doctors feel safe and comfortable.

“I hope my badges bridge the gap by building the trust a patient has with their healthcare provider. If the patient sees their doctor actively trying to communicate with them, they will talk more about their medical history or even their family medical history, ”she explains. “It will create a better outcome for the patient, so that they don’t come back in a worse condition. There is less risk of misdiagnosis and the patient will feel comfortable returning to this hospital / clinic knowing they are in good hands.

While these badges are a big step in the right direction with the potential to create a major positive impact on the minority healthcare community, they alone cannot resolve the language barrier that exists. Patients need to stand up for themselves and caregivers need to stand up for their patients, Yogi says. “You will have intimidating superiors who will try to racist and discriminate against patients who do not speak English. Remember, YOU are their voice. I hope my badges can create a temporary solution to the language barrier in healthcare until hospitals hire more interpreters. Not just for Spanish but all languages.

Finally, remember that it is your legal right as a patient to request an interpreter. “It’s not a drawback. Equal access is a right, not a privilege, ”Yogi emphasizes. “Just because you don’t speak English doesn’t mean you should be treated any differently. “

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