October 23, 2020
Imagine seeking medical care and not being able to understand what your provider is telling you. Many of our High Country community members experience this scenario each day. Even with an understanding of English as a second language, medical terms and concepts can be difficult to grasp in a non-native tongue.
Dinora Hernandez is the medical interpreter and coordinator of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s Latino Health Program (LHP). She has been working with our local Latino population for over five years and has become a crucial link in the chain between healthcare and the Spanish-speaking community.
The Latino Health Program’s main focus is to reach out to our Hispanic Community in Watauga and Avery counties to provide services such as interpreting during medical appointments, assisting with financial assistance documents, securing appropriate medication, coordinating appointments, and providing transportation to clients who are in need of this service.
The goal of the program is to educate the Latino population in reference to their chronic conditions and to use preventative measures to support healthy lifestyles. Although most people see Dinora during her role as interpreter she also helps provide patients with medications, financial assistance, and even food.
LHP is distributing food to its clients as part of a unique partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA will provide Watauga County LHP clients with boxes of food containing meat, vegetables, and dairy products for the next few weeks. LHP delivered 40 of these food boxes on October 8, and 40 additional boxes on October 15.
“This couldn’t have happened at a better time because many LHP clients are experiencing a reduction in work hours due to COVID-19,” said Hernandez. “It has become difficult for many of our clients to pay their monthly utility bills much less afford healthy food that helps control chronic health issues. If we hear of any program that can help, then we try to connect our clients with that resource.”
Hernandez is an important part of Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s service to our community. “It is a pleasure and a worthwhile blessing to be able to work with this program. With each client that I help, I have a feeling of a job and a life that is fulfilled.”