A company called CulturaLink is conducting a study – including focus groups – on the cultural competency and compliance of health services for Latinos in the First State.

CulturaLink president Yolanda Robles says her organization not only conducts studies of health systems nationwide and helps implement recommendations, but it also provides translation services to healthcare centers on a contract basis.

And she says language competency is an area where many health centers are falling short.

As of July 16th this year healthcare centers must provide interpreters to patients when necessary, an enforcement of the Affordable Care Act’s section 1557 that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

“The Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) can come into your healthcare system, they can do an audit, and if you’re not following those guidelines you can lose funding,” Robles said.

And legally, those interpreters must be adults and must be trained: hospitals can’t rely on children and family members to do the translating.

“There was a mother in a hospital who had a baby and the baby died in the nursery, and they pulled the housekeeper to tell the mother that the baby had died in the nursery,” she said.

Focus groups have been held this week in Wilmington, Dover and Georgetown to hear from patients about gaps in care they’ve experienced.

Paulette Winkfield was among the voices they heard Wednesday in Wilmington. Winkfield is the Kent County representative for Delaware chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) – and a counselor with Brandywine Counseling & Community Services.

She says more sensitivity is needed when dealing clients who may be experiencing homelessness and/or mental health issues.

“Don’t just slide them through like a number,” Winkfield said. “Treat them like they’re a person regardless of how they look. Just taking that extra moment to explain their medication to them, just taking time with them.”

She said most of her clients have substance abuse and mental health needs.

She feels like that once the underlying mental health needs are treated, substance abuse problems become easier to address.

Results from the complete study will be released sometime in October, and at the Delaware Hispanic Commission’s Latino Summit November 3rd.

source: http://delawarepublic.org/post/study-latino-healthcare-first-state-focuses-language-barriers-cultural-competency