MINT HILL, NC – Hispanic Americans have been especially hard hit by the Corona Virus. Novant Health Mint Hill Medical Center has taken steps to ensure that Mint Hill’s Spanish-speaking populations have easy access to critical health care resources. Patient Access Supervisor Brandon Rios has been assisting the hospital to care effectively for its Hispanic Patients for 18 months now, since well before COVID-19 arrived.
“Our team is in the admitting department, so checking in and arriving, outpatient procedures, surgery, radiology procedures as well as we have a team in the Emergency Department, which is the first place you see when you’re checking in,” says Rios. “They’re the ones that arrive you in the system and complete that side of registration in the back as well.”
Statistics suggest that nearly one-quarter of reported COVID-19 cases across North Carolina and here in Mecklenburg County are Hispanic or Latino, and it’s possible that the number of COVID-19 cases among Hispanics are under-reported.
“The Hispanic population is definitely being affected, as everybody else is,” says Rios. “A lot of them may have some type of hesitation to come to the hospital, but when they’re here in the hospital, it’s redirecting them and making sure that they have the same care as anybody else would, and letting them know they are taken care of just like everybody else, and making sure they know they are a part of this community, they are a part of this family. The reception has been great, and the community knows that we’re here for them and it’s something I’m very proud of.”
Hispanic and Latino individuals can face significant obstacles to obtaining care. According to the US Government, Hispanics are less likely to have health insurance or paid leave, which poses significant barriers to treatment. For Rios, the biggest obstacle is the language barrier.
“I think the biggest obstacle we face in the Spanish [speaking] community is the language barrier,” says Rios. “Because of that language barrier, there is some misinformation that’s being spread or a lack of resources, so something we pride ourselves on – Novant as a whole but especially Mint Hill Medical Center – is that when a patient presents themselves, that language barrier, it’s no longer a barrier. We’re going to make sure they have all the information they need to redirect them to where they need to go. We have all the resources to answer those questions.”
Some of the most valuable resources Novant has in their hands are also the simplest: handouts and pamphlets in Spanish. “Patients can be informed as to exactly what’s going on, what expectations are coming to the hospital, to keep them safe and where to go if we’re not the best stopping point for them to get that care they need,” says Rios. “We have virtual options, we have an “interpreter on a stick” is what we call it on an iPad. We have interpreters we can call, and something that I know that we’re super proud of here is that we have team members that go through the bilingual linguistic competency program to get the “Se hablo Espanol” under their badge and give the patient that face-to-face translation that we can provide them here, and that definitely gives them a sense of security and comfort that we want to provide everybody.”