Clinic Caters to Spanish Speakers in Need of Kidney Transplants

Thursday, April 18, 2024

The UI Health Spanish Language Clinic is a beacon of accessibility and inclusivity, ensuring all patients receive comprehensive care tailored to their linguistic needs.

Clinic Caters to Spanish SpeakersJuana Garcia consults with Karen Lostaunau, a transplant coordinator, in the Spanish Language Clinic, a vital component of the UI Health Kidney Transplantation Program. Photo by Carlos Sadovi/University of Illinois Chicago.

For years, Andrea Barcenas grappled with juggling her work schedule to accompany her mother, Juana Garcia, to medical appointments and serve as her interpreter.

Barcenas translated crucial medical information from English to Spanish for her mother during each visit. However, when she couldn't attend, Garcia was left hoping she grasped the doctor's instructions accurately.

During a recent medical appointment, doctors broke the news to Garcia that she required a kidney transplant. Concerned about navigating the complex transplantation process, Barcenas learned about the UI Health Kidney Transplant Program during a visit. They were delighted to discover UI Health's newly established Spanish Language Clinic, ensuring seamless communication in Garcia's native language.

"It's a relief for her to come here, where everything is explained in Spanish, eliminating the need for translation," said Barcenas.

At a recent visit to the clinic in the newly opened Specialty Care Building, Garcia effortlessly followed Karen Lostaunau, a pre-kidney transplant and living donor nurse coordinator, as she outlined the transplant process in Spanish.

Encountering Lostaunau and discovering the Spanish Language Clinic proved invaluable to Garcia, alleviating concerns about understanding her healthcare needs, especially navigating appointments and scheduling without her daughter's presence.

"When they spoke to me in English, I had no clue what was being said," recalled Garcia. "But stepping into this clinic, where everything is in Spanish, I immediately understand."

Since its inception in April 2022, the Spanish Language Clinic has welcomed over 160 patients, offering dedicated care to Spanish-speaking individuals on Tuesdays and Fridays, according to the Transplant Outreach Coordination team at UI Health.

Recognizing the growing Latino patient population and the importance of tailored care, UI Health established the clinic to ensure effective communication and enhance the quality of care.

Dr. Jorge Almario Alvarez, a surgeon at UI Health, emphasizes the clinic's significance in providing comprehensive care entirely in Spanish, from medical consultations to financial advice.

"The Spanish Language Clinic addresses the unique needs of Spanish-speaking patients, ensuring they understand and adhere to treatment plans," said Dr. Almario.

Jose Gomez, a patient, expresses gratitude for the clinic's Spanish-speaking environment, which reduces confusion and ensures comprehension, especially during critical medical discussions.

Faustina Reyes echoes similar sentiments, describing the clinic as a "blessing," appreciating the ability to communicate effectively in her native language.

The UI Health Spanish Language Clinic is a beacon of accessibility and inclusivity, ensuring all patients receive comprehensive care tailored to their linguistic needs.

Click here to learn more about the Spanish Language Clinic.