Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital recognizes the history, culture and contributions of patients, faculty and community partners during National Hispanic Heritage Month, which continues through Oct. 15.
Benefits for Families and Physicians around the World
As international patient demand rapidly grows, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital plays an integral part in providing alternative access to pediatric health care services – with a greater geographical reach.
The International Program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s draws patients from all over the world, including Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East. “Our program develops medical education and research projects in those countries to provide schooling and foster clinical relationships with children’s health care providers around the globe,” says Yadira Nunez, director of International Programs at Johns Hopkins All Children’s.
Roberto Sosa, M.D., medical director of the International Program, adds, “Our connections span to Guatemala and El Salvador thanks to telemedicine, and to Francisco Marroquin University School of Nutrition. They send two students each year to complete a three-month internship in our nutrition department – a partnership that started in 2017.”
In addition to providing families with a variety of educational programs and services, the International Program offers training opportunities for nurses and observerships for physicians and medical staff – all important parts of caring for patients and fostering lasting employee relationships.
This dedicated team seamlessly combines medical needs, individual preferences and cultural, linguistic and religious expectations into a tailored experience that makes Johns Hopkins All Children’s feel as close to home as possible. “We focus on international families that come to the United States seeking medical treatment,” says Nunez. “We see hundreds of patients every year from all over the world. Our job is to guide families through the process and provide a host of personalized services including translation, appointments and travel arrangements.”
Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has 35 Hispanic physicians, representing 13 countries from around the world – a benefit to the hospital and community.
“Diversity brings satisfaction. It motivates our colleagues. This is a unique journey we’re taking together,” says Raquel Hernandez, M.D., director of the Healthy Weight Initiative at Johns Hopkins All Children’s. “It helps us collaborate and learn from each other. It’s exciting to know that we’re moving the needle on language quality.”
Raquel Gonzalez, M.D., pediatric surgeon at Johns Hopkins All Children’s agrees. “Connecting with families of similar culture is a priority. Being bilingual makes our team stronger. It’s a valuable resource when providing care to patients.”
“Coming into the medical environment can be uncomfortable for any family. Imagine having a language barrier,” says Hernandez. “Speaking their language quickly brings their anxiety down – it creates ease and a connection.”
“We do have interpreter services, but we can provide a personal connection that you can’t get from an interpreter. It’s not just about understanding their language, it’s about being able to understand their culture,” adds Gonzalez. “We’re a readily available resource to the community – here to care for patients with unique language needs.”
As they walk down the hallway of the general pediatric clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, they pass a Spanish-speaking family at the receptionist desk. Hernandez looks back with a smile, “That’s diversity.”