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Community Clinic Bridging Language Barrier

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ROCKY MOUNT — Migrant Latino workers are becoming more and more prominent in NorthCarolina towns. The trouble is, for many of them the language barrier getsin the way of good medical care. But one community is investing in a planto reach the patients who need help the most.

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

"Anytime you have an influx of this many people in a given population,especially with the language barrier, and sometimes with special healthneeds, 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 grantto stock up on medical supplies. The clinic is run entirely from federaland state grant money, and is staffed almost entirely by Spanish speakingprofessionals.

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

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

"Delivering this kind of care in an ER setting is just an inefficientuse of health care resources, this is much more efficient and moreappropriate," 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 fromthe community they're starting to call home.

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

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