The project Improving Healthcare Language Access for Spanish Speakers in Kansas, proposed for the OASH/OMH Funding Opportunity Promoting Equitable Access to Language Services in Health and Human Services, is designed to improve health outcomes for Spanish speakers and speakers of indigenous languages in Kansas by improving access to healthcare language access services in regions of the Kansas with significant Hispanic populations and high levels of social vulnerability. This effort is a continuation of the ongoing work of Alce su voz, an interdisciplinary community-based organization that aims to improve healthcare language access and access to public health information for Spanish speakers and speakers of indigenous languages in Kansas.
To carry out this project, six teams will concentrate on community engagement and education; professional development for interpreters; professional development for clinicians and clinical staff; interprofessional applied learning curriculum and community partnership development for translation and interpreting, nursing, and medical students; clinic and hospital engagement and policy recommendations; and assessment and evaluation. By working in teams, the project aims to: (1) educate, engage, and empower Spanish-speaking Latino community members in Kansas who will achieve greater access to language access services for themselves and their communities, (2) provide regular professional development and networking opportunities for Kansas healthcare interpreters, and disseminate resources on interpreter professional development and certification to all medical interpreters in Kansas, (3) prepare and disseminate video-based professional development resources for clinicians and clinical staff about the role of bilingual clinicians and how to communicate with patients who need language assistance, (4) create a pipeline from high school, through college and graduate/medical school, to the clinic for healthcare teams of clinicians, staff, and interpreters from south-central and southwest Kansas who are prepared to collaborate with each other effectively, and (5) improve language access policies at the healthcare facilities that serve the largest numbers of Spanish speakers and speakers of Guatemalan indigenous languages in Kansas.
The project will be directed by Wichita State University Associate Professor of Spanish and Founder and President of Alce su voz Dr. Rachel Showstack and managed by Wichita State Public Policy and Management Center Community Initiatives Manager Monique Garcia. Partners include the National Health Law Program, the National Association of Medical Spanish, the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, Salud + Bienestar, Genesis Family Health, the Guadalupe Clinic, and the Local Health Equity Action Team. In addition to improving health outcomes for Kansans, our processes of community engagement, original professional development materials, and language access policy analysis and recommendations will benefit the fields of public health, medical and nursing education, and applied linguistics by contributing to the research base for healthcare language access and supporting the development of a national workforce of interpreters, clinicians and clinical staff, and Latino community members who are prepared to collaborate for culturally and linguistically sensitive care, improved healthcare communication, and enhanced access to healthcare language access services for speakers of minoritized languages.