Concorde Blog - Oct 20, 2020
When you go to a doctor's office, you get personal with your mental and physical well-being. You want to be able to describe everything going on with your body for the doctor to help you to optimal health. This takes effective communication from you, as the patient, and from the doctor and medical staff.
What happens if there is a language barrier? Every health care facility should have a plan in order to serve various patient demographics in their local community. One way to ensure this is to hire bilingual staff.
Meet Dr. LaTonya Hardy, DNPDr. LaTonya Hardy opened her practice, Hardy House, in June 2019. Hardy House is a Family Practice clinic that provides valuable preventative health care to all families in the Bartlett, TN and Shelby County area. For Dr. Hardy to execute on her mission to increase accessibility, equality, and a commitment to excellence in medical services provided, she knew she needed to set a great example to the population which she serves.
Around 30 percent of Dr. Hardy's patient population is Hispanic. Most of these patients speak Spanish only, and Dr. Hardy does not speak Spanish fluently. Through the externship portion of Concorde - Memphis's Medical Assistant program, Dr. Hardy was introduced to Lorena Romero. Romero is bilingual, and this was a huge factor in why Dr. Hardy hired Lorena as a medical assistant upon her graduation from Concorde in March 2020.
Meet Lorena Romero, MALorena experienced what it's like to have language barriers earlier on in life through her parents. They took someone with them every time they went to the doctor's office to translate. Often, this would be Lorena. Seeing her parents struggle, especially when trying to get access to health care, is when Lorena realized she wanted to give back to her community by helping others.
Romero grew up in the Memphis area and graduated from high school in 2018. One of her friends was a student at Concorde - Memphis and would tell Lorena how much she enjoyed the hands-on training. This prompted her to look up the programs online and she decided to apply for the Medical Assistant program.
Lorena was able to continue to work during the day and go to night classes to complete her training. When it came time for her externship, she was introduced to Dr. Hardy. This is when they both realized they could make a difference together in the community.
Making a Difference TogetherLorena is currently the only team member that can effectively communicate with Spanish-speaking patients. She has been a tremendous asset in helping Hardy House serve the Hispanic community in receiving access to health care. Dr. Hardy stated, "Patient referrals have increased since Lorena started," and she went on further to explain that, "during her short time with Hardy House, Lorena has assisted me in my Spanish-speaking skills, thereby enhancing interaction with our bilingual population".
Romero inspired Dr. Hardy so much that she bought a Spanish terminology book. The two decided to have a Spanish-speaking Day, in which they can only communicate through Spanish. Dr. Hardy even practices her Spanish-speaking skills on patients (with Lorena in the room) because she is eager to learn and wants to connect with all her patients.
"I feel good that I can now be an ambassador for Spanish-speaking patients and help them feel comfortable and at home," Lorena said.
In a few years, Lorena would like to go back to school to become a nurse. Dr. Hardy is grateful for Lorena's excellent work ethic and her passion for patient care. The sky is the limit for Lorena, and she wants to continue her education to make an even bigger impact in creating healthier, happier patients.