At Clínica Amiga, language barriers come down for Hispanic pediatric patients
Dr. Janeth Ceballos Osorio, UK HealthCare's only native Spanish-speaking general pediatrician, recognized a unique need in the patients she saw: Language barriers often put Kentucky's growing population of Hispanics at a disadvantage regarding healthcare.
"During my conversations with Hispanic families, they often confided me their challenges to access healthcare," said Ceballos. "They shared with me their frustration caused by the language and cultural barriers when interacting with healthcare services, how their children might not have gotten the services they needed because they did not know how to navigate the system or how their concerns, symptoms or provider recommendations have been lost in translation."
That's why the UK Department of Pediatrics opened the doors to Clínica Amiga, a pediatric clinic catering to Hispanic/Latino families, in September 2018.
Unique healthcare challenges of Hispanic families
Immigrant children and their families are more vulnerable to poverty and adverse developmental, behavioral and physical health outcomes. This can be attributed to a number of social factors, such as language barriers, legal and immigration issues, low health literacy levels, and insufficient culturally-sensitive materials and programs to address their needs.
"Hispanics are at higher risk to suffer obesity, teen pregnancy and tobacco use," said Ceballos. "They endure non-communicable diseases like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Children of Hispanic origin are at higher risk for developmental problems, such as speech delay and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. Over the last year, I have seen in my practice an exponential increase in the amount of Hispanic children and teenagers with mental health problems."
Central Kentucky has a large Hispanic/Latino population. Ceballos reports that over 1,000 patients who visited UK General Pediatrics clinic in the past six months required interpreter services.
"Dr. Ceballos and her team are providing an invaluable service to Central Kentucky's burgeoning Hispanic population," said Dr. Scottie Day, physician-in-chief of Kentucky Children's Hospital. "To have her addressing the health disparities in this underserved demographic helps UK HealthCare fulfill its promise to provide the best care to the children of the Commonwealth."
In addition to primary care services, Clínica Amiga provides families access to community programs, information about health and wellness, and a Spanish phone line so that parents can call with questions.
Ceballos also hosts a monthly parent support group in Spanish for Hispanic/Latino families with children with special health needs called Un Abrazo Amigo, which is Spanish for "a friendly embrace."
"Our goal is to provide social and community support to families who are usually isolated and, who usually encounter many barriers to access community and healthcare services for their children," said Ceballos. "We meet once per month at Cardinal Valley Elementary school and provide dinner and childcare. We talk about topics such as immigration issues, financial planning, self-care, how to take care of your child when your child is sick with the flu and ways to keep a balanced diet. We currently have 30 families enrolled and growing each month."
For patients and families who need additional language services, UK HealthCare provides interpreter services in all clinics and hospitals. UK General Pediatrics at Kentucky Clinic South welcomes all families with any other language needs.