Mirroring national growth, the authors’ local Hispanic/Latino population has doubled in size over the past decade. Whether documented or undocumented, Hispanic/Latino immigrants struggle to find a welcoming medical home willing to provide culturally and linguistically competent health care. In response, three local pediatricians sought to identify healthcare access barriers experienced by Hispanic/Latino immigrant parents seeking pediatric healthcare. The goal was to identify barriers and to design and implement changes to improve access to appropriate care for our target population.
A series of thirteen key informant interviews and five focus groups of thirty-seven Hispanic/Latino parents were conducted. Key informants were identified through a series of community meetings held by a local Hispanic Council. Focus group participants were recruited through fliers distributed throughout the community. Interviews were held in Spanish and data was anonymously coded. Focus groups were designed to encourage sharing personal difficulties experienced when attempting to access healthcare for their children. Transcripts were translated and categorically studied to identify local barriers.
Major pediatric healthcare access barriers identified by local Hispanic/Latino parents were: language, finances, legal status, discrimination, transportation and cultural beliefs—all intricately intertwined. From this, the authors developed three strategies to improve culturally and linguistically competent healthcare access: a) forming community partnerships, b) empowering Hispanic/Latino communities and c) educating healthcare providers in the delivery of culturally and linguistically competent healthcare.
Identifying interested community partners has been critical to our goal. A Children’s Hispanic/Latino Healthcare Initiative was established in collaboration with the health department’s Hispanic Advisory Council, local pediatric society, children’s hospital, pediatric residency program, attorneys, schools, the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board, insurance companies, Hispanic/Latino media and AmeriCorps.
Collaborating with community partners, the authors published and circulated a 36 page bilingual Hispanic/Latino resource guide, developed to empower the Hispanic/Latino community with tools to successfully navigate factors impeding healthcare access.
The authors are actively engaged in educating the local medical community in the delivery of culturally and linguistically competent healthcare. Strategies include a series of community-based events, grand rounds presentations, resident training, and strategic planning with stakeholders, hospitals, practices and residency programs.
Rapid growth in the Hispanic/Latino pediatric population requires local and national strategies to ensure access to high quality, culturally and linguistically competent health care. The authors’ work provides an example of how local pediatricians, committed to providing equitable health care to a rapidly growing Hispanic/Latino immigrant population, can implement strategies and tools to expand Hispanic/Latino immigrant access to pediatric medical homes. Both the Hispanic/Latino and medical communities have embraced these efforts. Our goal is to sustain and incorporate this initiative into all levels of the local system-of-care. These tripartite interventions—Partnership, Empowerment and Education—can be successfully replicated in other communities.