Tennessean Examines Cultural, Language Barriers in Delivering Care to Nashville Immigrants
As a result of the increasing immigrant population in the Nashville, Tenn., area, many physicians and other health care providers have had to help patients overcome language and other barriers to care, the Tennessean reports. Cultural barriers, cost and the lack of bilingual staff have affected some providers' ability to meet the needs of non-English speaking residents.
According to the Tennessean, the foreign-born population in the Nashville, Davidson and Murfreesboro metro areas increased by more than 50% between 2002 and 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Among Davidson County residents, the number of residents who spoke a language other than English at home increased by 51% during the same time period, according to the survey.
Many immigrants rely on safety-net clinics, charity care or income-based health programs to access health care services, the Tennessean reports. They also prefer to seek care in their own communities and from providers who speak their native language. The Nashville Latino Health Coalition and several of its partners last year surveyed 500 Hispanic adults in Nashville and found that 56% of those surveyed said they spoke little or no English. Eighty percent were uninsured.
Many local providers have hired interpreters and other staff members who speak multiple languages or have begun to use interpretation services. Pamela Hull, associate director of Tennessee State University's Center for Health Research, said, "In 2000, a handful of clinics had bilingual or multilingual support," adding, "Today, it's more or less expected that clinics will have at least interpretation service" (Ward, Tennessean, 12/15).