Navigating the United States’ healthcare system can be a difficult experience for people born outside the country or those raised in a non-English-speaking environment. Centro Medico Latino of Charlotte, NC understands that different people have different needs. Visiting your local Hispanic clinic offers benefits that no other medical center can.
6 Advantages of Visiting Your Local Hispanic Clinic
Our patients’ feedback has made it clear: a clinic that is tailored to your situation, with staff that knows your circumstances, produces much better results.
1. No Language Barrier
The most obvious reason for visiting your local Hispanic clinic is to be able to communicate in Spanish. Even if you are fluent in English, being able to speak your native tongue with a doctor greatly improves the quality of your treatment.
It’s estimated that in the United States only 5% of medical staff can speak Spanish well enough to properly care for Hispanic patients. This is in spite of the fact that over 18% of US citizens identify as Hispanic. Clearly there is a gap that needs to be filled.
Leave Your Translator at Home
Quite often, when a Spanish-speaking family member gets sick, they have to bring someone else along to their doctor’s appointment. This can complicate matters for the family since two people have to take time off work. Going to a medical center that specializes in treating Spanish-speaking patients gives you independence.
There are also the little things that a Hispanic clinic understands. We realize that it can be scary and intimidating to walk into a doctor’s office unable to speak the language. When the receptionist, nurses, and doctor all speak Spanish, that fear fades away.
Your Language Means Faster Recovery
Studies have shown that receiving instructions in your own language leads to a faster recovery. Much of this is due to the fact that people misunderstand instructions or advice when it is given in a second language. Seemingly innocuous details, like when to take a pill or what medicines you should not combine, can have a significant impact on your health.
Patients who receive medical attention in their native language also tend to return more frequently for follow-up visits and checkups. This leads to better lifelong health.
2. Cultural Understanding
While speaking the language is important, it is far from the only important characteristic of a Hispanic clinic. Perhaps more important than the language is the cultural understanding that comes with Spanish-speaking doctors and medical staff.
Numerous studies have revealed that many Hispanic patients feel as though they are being judged when they visit hospitals and local clinics. For instance, a mother who doesn’t bring her child in for checkups as frequently as she would like to may feel guilty, especially when the doctor asks why she hasn’t kept up with the schedule.
Part of cultural understanding is recognizing the socio-cultural realities of different ethnicities. Hispanic parents are more likely to have multiple jobs and are also more likely to be uninsured than the average American patient. Doctors who aren’t used to this reality may perceive their patients as lazy, disinterested, or even negligent.
That fear of judgment makes many in the Latino community shy away from medical treatment. We want the exact opposite to happen. We strive to create an environment where people feel welcomed and safe.
A growing term in the medical industry is cultural competence. This refers to the medical practitioner’s self-awareness of their own beliefs and biases, their knowledge of other groups’ beliefs, and how they put that knowledge to use. A culturally competent medical provider is more likely to promote things like diversity training and engage in community outreach.
When a clinic chooses to focus on a particular community, as is our case, it means we aim to have a high level of cultural competence. You should not only feel heard but understood. That is our goal with every visit.
3. Better Diagnoses
The previous two points combine to give us the third. When you visit a clinic that can speak your language and understands your cultural background, you get a better diagnosis. Shouldn’t that be the main goal of all medicine?
Knowing your culture makes it easier to diagnose you. There are differences in lifestyles and habits that can facilitate diagnosis. For example, a traditional Latino diet differs considerably from the standard American diet. That dietary difference can impact the diagnoses of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and even liver disorders.
More Time to Talk
When Spanish-speaking patients visit a normal clinic, doctors often rush them through the process. This is often because they don’t speak Spanish. Therefore, they don’t take the time to get to know their patients.
When both parties can communicate effectively, a sense of relaxation ensues and both sides can express themselves more freely. This allows the doctor to get more accurate information from the patient, leading to a better diagnosis. This is especially important when it comes to diagnosing less obvious issues.
One of the biggest health issues facing the Latino community is mental health. Although the increase in depression and mental disorders affects everyone worldwide, doctors chronically under-diagnose Hispanic patients for these issues. Why is this?
Part of the problem goes back to culture. For many Latino men, there is a stigma to having a mental health issue. Depression can be seen as a sign of weakness for the man of the house, who is supposed to remain strong.
With your average doctor, a Latino might chalk his depression up to stress from work or simple exhaustion. However, when they can open up to a Spanish-speaking doctor who understands their reality, a proper diagnosis emerges. Successful treatment follows.
4. Less Biased Treatment
Another factor that produces better results in our clinic is our lack of bias. Bias comes in two forms: implicit and explicit. Explicit bias is when someone openly says something biased against a particular group, while implicit bias is harder to see and is revealed in someone’s subtle actions.
A 2013 study titled Assessment of Biases Against Latinos and African-Americans Among Primary Care Providers and Community Members demonstrated that primary care providers had a significantly higher level of implicit bias towards Latinos and African-Americans. Although the bias was worse for African-Americans, the study provided the first evidence of bias against Latinos in medicine.
Racial Bias in Medicine
It’s an open secret these days that there is significant racial bias in medicine towards minorities. How this bias manifests itself is different from place to place, and it depends on the minority in question.
A good example can be seen in how doctors manage pain. Studies show that doctors are more likely to prescribe painkillers to white patients. Some have justified this by saying that they believe Latinos or African Americans are tougher and able to withstand the pain. Others claim they are worried about the pills being resold as drugs.
These attitudes prevail in many parts of the country. It’s unfortunate that minorities have to prove their innocence. At a Hispanic clinic, you never have to.
5. Affordable Treatment
In a 2006 study, Flores Abreu and Tomany-Korman surveyed over a thousand parents to learn more about Latinos and health insurance. The results were alarming. Around 19% of the Hispanic community is uninsured.
That same study aimed to identify some risk factors towards being uninsured. One of the biggest factors was English proficiency. When parents can’t speak English, their children suffer. Another one was whether or not the parents were legal immigrants.
How We Can Help
Clinics that cater to the Hispanic community understand that many of its members are going to be uninsured. As a result, we strive to keep costs down as much as possible without sacrificing quality. In addition, most Hispanic clinics are willing to accept a broader selection of insurance plans.
A lack of insurance should not be the determining factor in whether a person receives medical attention or not. We aim to make healthcare accessible to the Hispanic community rather than barring access to it.
When patients cannot afford medical care, they often are faced with tough choices. Medical debt has become a major burden for many people in the United States, not just in the Latino community.
In fact, the average American spends more than $10,000 a year on healthcare! This would represent a significant portion of someone’s income, especially in the Latino community. It’s estimated that 32% of American workers have medical debt.
By working with a clinic that understands your situation and needs, you can avoid crippling medical debt. Our strategic partnerships with several organizations allow you to access specialists and laboratories at a fraction of the cost of other providers.
6. Immigration Issues
First-generation immigrants know what it’s like to live life on the edge. At Centro Medico Latino, we do not discriminate based on your immigration status, nor do we ask any questions about it.
What’s more, we can actually help you to attain proper immigration status. One of the requirements to apply for permanent residency is a medical exam that certifies that you are healthy and won’t spread diseases to other people. We have considerable experience in this regard and can help you to get the documents you need to immigrate properly.
Have No Fear
Generally speaking, a doctor’s job is not to report you to the authorities. However, it’s common for Spanish-speaking patients to feel uncomfortable entering a hospital or clinic because of their immigration status.
Rest assured, at a Hispanic clinic you have nothing to fear. Not only do we not ask any questions about the issue, but we are under no obligation to give any information of that sort to the authorities.
Your Comfort Comes First
Doctors know that when a patient is comfortable and happy, they recover faster and are more likely to continue their treatment to its conclusion. That is what matters most to us. We strive to make our clinic feel like an extension of your family.
We want to engender that same warm feeling you get when you are surrounded by family, by those you love, and by those who understand your culture and language. Regardless of what ails you, contact Centro Medico Latino of Charlotte, North Carolina to set up an appointment with our bilingual, bicultural doctors. We are certain that you will enjoy your experience at our clinic from the moment you step inside. We have three offices in the Charlotte area. We also welcome walk-ins, so do not hesitate to pay us a visit.