Dallas Morning News Looks at Hispanic Health Care in Texas
Many Texas health providers and insurers are changing the way they administer and address health care in order to accommodate a growing Hispanic population, the Dallas Morning News reports. Hispanics are expected to comprise nearly 60% of the state's population in 30 years, according to the Morning News.
Area hospitals are providing bilingual legal documents, reading material, signage and the newest translation technology, while physicians and insurers are beginning to focus more on ailments most prevalent in the Hispanic population, such as diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. In addition, medical schools and universities are beginning to incorporate Spanish language and Hispanic health courses into curriculums.
The University of North Texas Health Science Center is the first in the nation to offer a course that teaches medical students how to locate community-based resources for Hispanic patients, according to Bruce Dubin, associate dean of medical education at the center. San Antonio last month designed the first and only U.S. hospital, called "Hispanic Healthcare Hospital," that is specifically for treating Hispanics.
"Such accommodations are not without controversy," the Morning News reports. Some argue that not enough is being done to tailor health care for Hispanics, such as requiring physicians to learn Spanish and be culturally competent. But "others bristle" at the idea of medical students learning a foreign language "rather than honing their craft," according to the Morning News. Jerry Frankel, a recently retired Texas urologist, said, "I think the reasonable thing is for doctors to learn how to practice medicine well. If you make the doctor speak Spanish, then what about Chinese? ...Where do you draw the line?" Cristina Gonzàlez, an assistant professor of physician assistant studies at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center's Allied Health Sciences School, said, "I kind of have mixed emotions because I kind of feel if you're going to be in this country, you've got to learn English. But at the same time, I recognize the fact that we have people from all over, and it eventually ends up saving money because you're helping these people before their health gets out of control" (Roberson, Dallas Morning News, 9/15).