The goal of this project, Strategies to Promote Equitable Access to and Knowledge of Language Services in WNC (SPEAK-WNC), is to work towards the elimination of health disparities among racial and ethnic minority populations in Western North Carolina by increasing the access to language services in medical setting for people with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) and Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals. This will be achieved through expanding the Western Carolina Medical Society Interpreter Network (WIN), a program of the Western Carolina Medical Society Foundation. This outcomes-driven project aspires to demonstrate the impact of those efforts on advancing health equity, rigorously evaluate the process and outcomes measures that will indicate the project’s success and disseminate those findings widely through national and state donated care networks to benefit the field at large.
This project will include a comprehensive Environmental Scan to assess the demographics, local policies, availability of language services, current strategies for serving individuals with LEP in the service area, and service gaps/areas for improvement. An internal review of WCMS Foundation and partners’ internal written policies and procedures will be conducted, and new policies and procedures will be developed as needed to ensure LEP and Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals are aware of their rights and protections under Title VI and the ADA. Key to the success of the initiative will be the partnerships with committed and varied partners from health care providers, county health departments, advocacy organizations, faith-based organizations, and an academic partner who will all support efforts such as recruitment, training, and impact dissemination.
SPEAK-WNC will create and deliver an education and advocacy campaign for providers, patients, WCMS Foundation members, CBOs, and legislators to raise awareness of the importance and benefit of language services for LEP and Deaf and Hard of Hearing persons making healthcare decisions. WIN will be strategically expanded into in new service areas, at other types of medical providers, and in community organizations and local businesses. Three WIN staff members will be trained and licensed to conduct interpreter trainings in order to increase the availability of qualified interpreters in the Western North Carolina. The outcomes of this project will be widely disseminated to local, regional and national medical service providers and the public in order to contribute to expanding the quality of care for all patients and best practices in the field at large.