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January 28, 2002

New Hispanic clinic to open in March

By Alicia Sands Lurry


Emory physicians at Grady Hospital will open a General Medical Clinic for adult Latino patients in March, a first for the hospital, which services a growing number of Spanish-speaking patients each year.

Opening the clinic is an effort to eliminate the language, cultural and health care barriers many Hispanic patients face. The Department of Multicultural Affairs within the Grady Health System is spearheading the effort and is patterning the clinic after the Pediatric Latino Clinic at the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts.

“What we’re trying to do is carve out a Latino clinic inside the medical clinic,” said Inginia Genao, assistant professor of medicine and director of multicultural affairs, who is developing the clinic along with internists Clyde Watkins and Stacy Higgins, pediatrician Flavia Mercado, multicultural affairs coordinator Elizabeth Sablon and Jada Bussey-Jones, an Emory physician and associate program director for the General Medical Clinics.

Higgins, a bilingual physician in the Division of General Medicine, will provide medical assistance when the clinic opens in March. The clinic, serving adult patients above age 18, will initially open three days each week and will be staffed by Higgins and Genao and six medical residents, all of whom are bilingual. Plans also include recruiting bilingual staff, including a bilingual nurse.

“My hope is that by decreasing the language barrier alone, the numbers will increase dramatically to the point where we will move out of the medical clinic and into a different site,” said Genao, a native of the Dominican Republic.

“By having a small staff of bilingual healthcare providers, patients will feel more welcome and comfortable in a setting all their own,” she added. “When they come to the [Latino] medical clinic, there will be a protected environment, where at least the language is not so much a barrier.”

Genao also said patients who receive care from a physician who speaks the same language are more satisfied, and disease outcomes often improve. She and other physicians are considering a similar clinic at Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital to address the needs of the Latino pediatric population.