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January 23, 2002


Emory Physicians To Start First Hispanic Medical Clinic at Grady Hospital

Emory University physicians at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta will open a General Medical Clinic for adult Latino patients in March, a first for Grady, which services a growing number of Spanish-speaking patients each year.

Opening the clinic is an effort to eliminate the language, cultural and health care barriers many Hispanic patients face. The Department of Multicultural Affairs within the Grady Health System is spearheading the effort, and is patterning the clinic after the Pediatric Latino Clinic at the Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts.

"What we're trying to do is carve out a Latino clinic inside the medical clinic," said Inginia Genao, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, and Director of Multicultural Affairs, who is developing the Latino Clinic, along with Emory University internists Clyde Watkins, M.D., Medical Director of General Medical Clinics 1 and 2, Stacy Higgins, M.D., Emory University pediatrician Flavia Mercado, Multicultural Affairs Coordinator Elizabeth Sablon, and Jada Bussey-Jones, M.D., an Emory University physician and associate program director for the General Medical Clinics at Grady.

Dr. Higgins, a bilingual physician in the Division of General Medicine, will provide medical assistance when the clinic opens in March. The clinic, serving adult patients above age 18, will initially open three days each week and will be staffed by Dr. Higgins and Dr. Genao and six medical residents, all of whom are bilingual. Plans also include recruiting bilingual staff, including a bilingual nurse.

Although no numbers are available on how many Latino patients are currently serviced at Grady, Dr. Genao says: "My hope is that by decreasing the language barrier alone, the numbers will increase dramatically to the point where we will move out of the medical clinic and into a different site."

She estimates that about 70 percent of her patients speak Spanish. Dr. Bussey-Jones said there is a tremendous need for the clinic. "We recognize that these patients are better served by having a person speak the same language," Dr. Bussey-Jones said. "If we have the services, physicians, and nurses, and technicians here that can make those appointments and contacts with the other providers, it will be very helpful, as opposed to patients being on their own. They know they can always come back to their primary care provider to talk and to ask questions."

Dr. Genao, who is a native of the Dominican Republic, said the clinic would help eliminate multiple language barriers and address the explosive boom among the Hispanic patient population in Atlanta.

"By having a small staff of bilingual healthcare providers, patients will feel more welcome and comfortable in a setting all their own," Dr. Genao said. "When they come to the (Latino) medical clinic, there will be a protected environment, where at least the language is not so much a barrier."

Dr. Genao also says that patients who receive care from a physician who speaks the same language are more satisfied, and disease outcomes often improve. She and other physicians are considering a similar clinic at Hughes Spalding to address the needs of the Latino pediatric population.

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