CLEVELAND - Think about how difficult it is to remember and pronounce medical terms when you talk to your doctor.
Now imagine trying to do it in a foreign language.
For Spanish speakers in Northeast Ohio, a new program at MetroHealth Medical Center addresses that challenge. Two Wednesdays out of each month, the hospital staff runs a special Latina clinic .
“We do have translators here at Metro.. but I think being able to speak to the physician one on one really creates a connection with the patient that would be lost otherwise,” MetroHealth OB/GYN Gregory Kitagawa said.
Dr. Kitagawa is one of the physicians who got the clinic up and running in October. He learned Spanish in grade school in California and it just stuck with him.
He came to Metro for his residency in 1998 and realized he was using his Spanish skills "all the time".
For patients like 19-year-old Miriam Ramos, Dr. Kitagawa and the Latina clinic are extraordinary resources for her. She is 7 months pregnant and has a lot of questions for her doctor.
“He’s always there for me,” she said.
Like many of the patients at Metro’s Latina clinic, Miriam is Puerto Rican and lives in a Spanish-only household. She learned English about four years ago, but still struggles with some translation, especially when it comes to medical terms.
She plans to spread the word to other Latinas she knows.
Legal status is not an issue. There are financial counselors available to help with payment for medical services, but physicians say it’s important the Spanish-speaking community knows that whether a patient is in the country legally or not makes no difference to them.
“We’ll see you because I think that health care is more important than your legal status,” Dr. Kitagawa said.
For an appointment you can call 216-778-2222. Patients can speak to someone in Spanish at that number. For more information you can also go to a special section on MetroHealth Medical Center's website .
Here is a list of the services offered:
• Adolescent and Adult Gynecology
• Pelvic Exams
• PAP Testing
• Birth Control Counseling
• STD Testing and Treatment
• Pregnancy Testing
• Menstrual Disorders
• Obstetric Care
The clinic is open the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month from 12:45-3:45 p.m.