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Murray Journal

Murray kidney clinic helping the Latino community

May 07, 2024 02:58PM ● By Bailey Chism

Patients at the Hispanic Kidney Clinic feel more comfortable and open to treatment in their preferred language. (Photo courtesy of Erin Goff)

Intermountain Health has taken steps to address the Latino community by opening Utah’s first fully Spanish-speaking kidney transplant clinic. 

The Intermountain Clinica Hispana de Riñon (Hispanic Kidney Clinic), in Murray, aims to provide support for Spanish-speaking patients undergoing kidney transplant surgery. 

The idea to open a Spanish-speaking clinic came a few years ago when different healthcare providers saw the need and began working to put all the pieces together. 

“Having a Spanish-speaking clinic allows us to be closer to a population of patients that have been historically underserved,” said Alan Contreras, MD, transplant surgeon for Intermountain Health’s abdominal transplant program at Intermountain Medical Center. “Regardless of the reasons for that, we saw the need and we also believe that it was in our hands the possibility to do something to help this particular population of patients.”

The clinic has bilingual professionals, including surgeons, social workers, financial and nutrition coordinators. The clinic offers culturally comprehensive care, where providers address patients in their native language and are trained to support patients’ cultural needs and educational styles. 

Patients who receive medical information in their preferred language are more likely to understand and participate fully in decisions about their care.

Intermountain Health Transplant Services caregivers spearheaded this project, recognizing there are many misconceptions about transplantation and the donation process in Spanish-speaking communities and that some information may get lost in translation. 

“This goes beyond providing a translation service, there is a significant effort from everybody involved to understand the particular needs and misconceptions within the community to work together in helping as many Spanish-speaking patients as possible,” Contreras said. 

Contreras said most common misconceptions about transplantation and organ donation are not exclusive to the Hispanic community, but having an open conversation with patients and understanding their culture helps them have better access to care. For example, some patients are hesitant to ask around about organ donation because they fear they’ll be hurting the donor. The clinic gave patients a place to go to learn in their preferred language that donors are heroes and learn more about the organ donation process to understand it better. This diminishes the reluctance to go through with a transplant and results in more acceptance. 

The clinic has been at full capacity since it opened in October 2023 and they are currently trying to have more availability and hiring more healthcare providers to satisfy patient needs. 

“[Our goal is] to get closer to our community, to understand what are the barriers for access to health and work along with patients and family members to overcome those barriers in the benefit of our patients,” Contreras said. 

Intermountain Health Transplant Services also offers a clinic for Spanish-speaking patients post-transplant where they meet with a nephrology provider and pharmacist who speak with them in their native language to help complete a successful transplant journey, Intermountain said in a statement. λ