Local News

Community Clinic Bridging Language Barrier

Posted August 4, 1997

— Migrant Latino workers are becoming more and more prominent in North Carolina towns. The trouble is, for many of them the language barrier gets in the way of good medical care. But one community is investing in a plan to reach the patients who need help the most.

Nash County runs a public Latino health clinic where people can seek treatment.

"Anytime you have an influx of this many people in a given population, especially with the language barrier, and sometimes with special health needs, the health department felt that prevention was an important aspect," said William Hill, Nash County health director.

It's so important, that county leaders have just accepted an $80,000 grant to stock up on medical supplies. The clinic is run entirely from federal and state grant money, and is staffed almost entirely by Spanish speaking professionals.

The purpose is to immunize and treat Latino immigrants who are moving by the thousands to North Carolina. Most of them are farmer or families of farmers who put in long hours on a regular basis. So part of the challenge is not only making the service available, but making it attractive.

That, in turn, keeps the patients from taking non-emergency problems to local emergency rooms.

"Delivering this kind of care in an ER setting is just an inefficient use of health care resources, this is much more efficient and more appropriate," said Dr. Kirk Dickie, interim physician.

Doctors say the low cost treatment and immunizations are the best ways they know to keep contagious ailments away from migrant workers, and away from the community they're starting to call home.

Office visits without lab work usually cost patients about $3. The clinic sees about 30 patients a day.

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