When a patient who is not a native English speaker hears a term like “heart murmur,” having a Spanish speaker like Rachel Ysasi on hand can ease fears and facilitate care.
That’s just one of the skills Rachel has brought to the City on a Hill Health Clinic since March, thanks to two grants. Rachel also meets with church and community groups to grow awareness of the Clinic. She helps patients access health care. And she conducts COVID testing and collects samples in a Michigan State University study to monitor and protect the community from new disease variants.
Rachel is excited to share the Health Clinic message, particularly with people who need health care but don’t know about the Clinic.
“I’m amazed at all these volunteers who take time out of their schedules to help – doctors, nurses, medical assistants. I’m very impressed with the number of people who are helped,” she said.
“I’ve found a lot of community members that I’ve sat with are really surprised about all the work that goes on in this building.”
The focus of one of the grants is to make medical care more accessible to permanent residents and migrant families that come to work in this area.
That’s where that language skill is so important. People for whom English isn’t a first language might not understand medical terms, even if they speak English fairly well, Rachel said, citing a patient who didn’t know the term “heart murmur” and was unduly frightened.
“Even in the short time I’ve been here, I’ve been able to help a lot of people with the language barrier get the help they need,” said Rachel, who grew up with a Spanish-speaking mother and was a Spanish major in college.
“I’ve found that as I’m able to talk to them, they start to open up more. It’s been a big plus here.”