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Miscommunication among Latinos and health care providers

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Nearly 6 in 10 Hispanic adults have had a difficult time communicating with a health care provider because of a language or cultural barrier, and when they do they often turn to outside sources for help, according to a new study conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The survey finds that half of those who have faced those barriers turned to a family member or to another health care provider for assistance. In addition, more than 1 in 4 looked to a translator, public resources in their community or online sources for help when they faced those issues.

Antonio Torres, 53, of Orlando, Florida, who is bilingual and legally blind, told The AP he regularly struggles to understand the medical terms used by doctors and nurses.

"When I tell them I don't understand them, they'll bring someone over to speak to me in Spanish and I don't understand them, either," said Torres, who is Puerto Rican and was raised in New York. "We didn't grow up speaking that formal Spanish, so I have no idea what they are saying."

At times, Torres said he even gets medicine with his name misspelled on the bottle. "And I don't know if I'm taking my medicine or someone else's," he said.

The language and cultural barriers in health care for Latinos are something advocates have been pointing out for years.

In 2014, for example, the Obama administration faced criticism following the rollout of the Spanish version of the federal health care website, CuidadoDeSalud.gov. The translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated. The website also translated "premium" into "prima," the Spanish word more commonly used to mean a female cousin among Mexican-Americans and Mexican immigrants.

Along with communication challenges, many Hispanics are concerned about language or cultural accommodations for people in their community who seek long-term care services.

Fewer than half say it would be easy for older Latinos in their area to find a nursing home or assisted living facility with staff that speaks their language, or to find a home health aide who does. Even fewer — less than 3 in 10 — say the same about finding long-term care providers who can prepare the kind of food they are used to. Some have concerns about finding nursing homes and assisted-living facilities that will respect their religious or spiritual beliefs, though fewer have the same concern about home health aides.

Torres said he's not confident he'll find a culturally sensitive nursing home when he's gets older. "I'd rather just live alone and poison myself by accident rather than stay in one of those homes right now," he said.

Like other older Americans, many Hispanics age 40 and older expect to rely on government programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to pay for long-term care services, even though Medicare does not cover most nursing care or home health aides. But only about 2 in 10 think any of these programs will still be providing at least the same level of benefits five years from now. Just 15 percent of older Hispanics are very confident they will be able to pay for their own future long-term care needs.

The survey also finds that a large majority of older Hispanics are open to using at least one type of telemedicine to receive care, including phone consultations, text messages or video services like Skype, although older Hispanics are somewhat less likely than others in their age group to say they'd be comfortable using some types of telemedicine.

Gabriel Vargas, 41, of Lancaster, South Carolina, who is from Veracruz, Mexico, said he felt these resources in his area already were helping Latino residents. The growth of online options, he said, is breaking down the stigma held by Hispanics around regular checkups and preventative care.

"There's a nonprofit group here that goes out of its way to help," said Vargas, whose first language is Spanish. "Maybe 10 years ago, it was tough. But today I think it's become easier."

Source:  ABC News

Hispanic Identity Fades Across Generations

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More than 18% of Americans identify as Hispanic or Latino, the nation’s second-largest racial or ethnic group. But two trends – a long-standing high intermarriage rate and a decade of declining Latin American immigration – are distancing some Americans with Hispanic ancestry from the life experiences of earlier generations, reducing the likelihood they call themselves Hispanic or Latino.

Among the estimated 42.7 million U.S. adults with Hispanic ancestry in 2015, nine-in-ten (89%), or about 37.8 million, self-identify as Hispanic or Latino. But another 5 million (11%) do not consider themselves Hispanic or Latino, according to Pew Research Center estimates. The closer they are to their immigrant roots, the more likely Americans with Hispanic ancestry are to identify as Hispanic. Nearly all immigrant adults from Latin America or Spain (97%) say they are Hispanic. Similarly, second-generation adults with Hispanic ancestry (the U.S.-born children of at least one immigrant parent) have nearly as high a Hispanic self-identification rate (92%), according to Pew Research Center estimates.

By the third generation – a group made up of the U.S.-born children of U.S.-born parents and immigrant grandparents – the share that self-identifies as Hispanic falls to 77%. And by the fourth or higher generation (U.S.-born children of U.S.-born parents and U.S.-born grandparents, or even more distant relatives), just half of U.S. adults with Hispanic ancestry say they are Hispanic.1

Source: Pew Hispanic

Patients' #1 Complaint on Physicians Regards Customer Service, Not Clinical Skill

"In summary, the study found that fewer than 1 in 20 online complaints cite diagnosis, treatments and outcomes in healthcare as unsatisfactory, whereas more than 19 of 20 unhappy patients said inadequate communications and disorganized operations drove them to post harsh reviews." (Becker's Hospital Review)

NYTimes Article on Influx of West African Languages in the Bronx -- Need for Interpreters

In the article, Influx of West Africans in the Bronx Spurs Demand for Interpreters Liz Robbins not only emphasizes the scope of the language barrier for this growing population in the healthcare realm but also in navigating and accessing other processes from immigration paperwork to housing applications, education services, etc.