As the number of immigrants in the United States continues to rise, so will the demand to overcome the language and cultural barriers many immigrants face in the communities and at local health centers. South Cove Community Health Center (SCCHC) in Boston, MA, knows exactly how challenging those barriers can be. As a health center whose mission is to improve the health and well being of Asian-Americans in Massachusetts, they know firsthand how difficult it can be for both physicians and patients to communicate when there are both cultural and language barriers.
According to an article in the Patriot Ledger, SCCHC has experienced a significant increase in Asian patient visits at one of its sites due to a growing Asian population. One of South Cove’s clinics has seen an increase of about 5,000 patients in the last four years. Eugene Welch, Executive Director at SCCHC said, “There’s a need for constant outreach….”
Although SCCHC and its surrounding clinics cater to anyone, a lot of their practices are geared toward Asians. There are Chinese medical consultations, and specific screenings for hepatitis –B, which according to the article affects 1 in 10 Asian-Americans. By providing interpreters and bilingual staff, Welch and other local advocates are trying very hard to eliminate the barriers between physicians and the growing number of immigrant patients.
Is your health center facing language and cultural barriers? Please share your experiences.