Historically, the U.S. has prided itself on being home to a vast array of immigrants; however, immigration to this country has recently become a highly politicized, hot button issue. Put simply, the word “immigrant” is defined as a person(s) who has come to another country to take up residence. At CommunityHealth, we serve a large immigrant population, consisting of: naturalized citizens, permanent legal residents, refugees, undocumented patients, and those holding visas. Unsurprisingly our immigrant community is diverse in their nationality of origin: 50% are Latino, 25% are Polish, and the remaining 25% come from over 25 different nations. Due to this you will always hear a multitude of different languages being spoken at the health center. Whilst English, Spanish, and Polish are the most common, you might also hear Ukrainian, Arabic, Mandarin, and many more within the health center on a given day.
Communication in any working environment is key to success; this is especially true in a medical setting where you must be able to understand the patients’ concerns, and clearly communicate a prescribed course of action in order to provide them with the best treatment. You may be wondering how it is that CommunityHealth works in relation to our diverse and multilingual patients, the answer is quite simply, it works brilliantly because our staff are equally diverse and multilingual:
We are very much part of the community we serve. The patient-staff relationship within the clinic is both a professional and a neighborly one, as we collectively want what’s best for our community. Furthermore, volunteers and students from diverse backgrounds also play an important role in welcoming anyone who enters CommunityHealth. Ultimately, we know that our immigrant community is treated with the same warmth, respect, and dignity that we extend to everyone who visits CommunityHealth. Unfortunately however, this warmth is not always extended by everyone outside the health center’s doors.
In relation to the current political climate, we have had to respond to our immigrant communities’ growing concerns regarding how they are treated by wider society. Our response to these concerns has taken place through multiple formats:
This “safe space” mentality is embedded in CommunityHealth; It is in our history, and our core values. From the very start CommunityHealth founder Dr. Serafino Garella wanted bilingual staff so that everyone could be reached and communicate with their medical providers. Whilst Dr. Garella is no longer at the clinic, his beliefs are extended everyday by those who work here through the values of Diversity & Inclusion, which are part of the Core Values posted on the wall throughout our health center and are expected of all staff and volunteers.
“Because no one should go without health care.”
Dr. Serafino Garella
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