The Hispanic population is growing at record rates in the United States. According to the U.S. Census, as of July 1, 2021, the Hispanic population in the U.S. is 62.6 million, making up 18.9 percent of the total population.
Even though Hispanics are the largest minority group in this country, the healthcare available to Hispanics and catering to their needs is severely lacking.
If we’ve learned anything over the past three years of the Covid-19 global pandemic, it’s that health complications have disproportionately impacted Latinos, and they are simultaneously not receiving the culturally competent care they need and deserve.
Enter Cultural Competency in Healthcare
Culturally competent healthcare is when care is delivered in a manner that considers a patient’s diverse beliefs, attitudes, values, and behaviors.
It’s not just about speaking the patient’s language or checking off an ethnicity box on their medical forms. “Culturally competent healthcare is delivering high-quality, effective care to patients while considering and serving their distinct cultural identities,” explains Ana Fuentevilla, M.D., M.H.C.D.S., Co-founder and National Chief Medical Officer of Suvida. “Our cultural identities are made up of a unique combination of factors such as race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, language, and religion, and influence our attitudes, interactions, and perceptions towards the healthcare system,” she told Latina Moms.
In the past, and still today, many minority patients, especially Latinos, experience obstacles in accessing culturally competent care. Sometimes these obstacles are language barriers or might be financial and geographical challenges. Sometimes a patient simply does not trust the medical system because of bad past experiences, racial bias, or a lack of cultural respect from their practitioners.
As a result, many patients will avoid seeking care or put off preventative appointments because they are uncomfortable navigating the healthcare system.
“When patients don’t feel seen or heard by their provider, they often avoid seeking care, resulting in preventable adverse health outcomes. Establishing trust and respect is critical to identifying social needs and building a meaningful patient-provider relationship that drives better outcomes,” said Dr. Fuentevilla.
It’s clear that cultural competency in healthcare is essential. Thankfully, this Latina leader is doing something about it. She is the co-founder and National Chief Medical Officer leading a new wave of culturally competent healthcare at Suvida.
Suvida is a new neighborhood-centric primary care provider specializing in high-quality, culturally relevant care for Hispanic seniors and their families.
“Suvida’s purpose is to improve the health and quality of life of Hispanic seniors by delivering an exceptional customer experience and culturally appropriate care model within their neighborhood. We deliver a physician-led, team-based primary care system that takes full financial and clinical responsibility for the patients we serve,” explains Fuentevilla.
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A Groundbreaking Initiative
The physicians and caregiver teams at Suvida are meeting patients where they are, allowing those patients to truly feel seen.
“Our teams represent the diversity of the neighborhoods we serve and provide care in the setting that works best for the patient, including in-person visits in our newly developed neighborhood centers, at-home care and support from licensed providers and community health workers, and virtual visits,” she explained. “ We directly address social barriers to health and care by providing transportation services to our members and offering targeted educational and wellness programming within our neighborhood centers and out in the community.”
In the end, it’s about a commitment to care that prioritizes the needs of specific communities based on their unique values. This is something that the healthcare system has failed to do for decades. It’s an essential piece of the puzzle in providing effective care.
Suvida Healthcare is seeking to transform the care landscape, beginning in Texas and ultimately expanding to underserved senior communities across the country.
“All patients deserve culturally competent care, regardless of their cultural identities. Unfortunately, most Hispanic patients and families do not realize that culturally competent healthcare exists and thus do not seek it out, often avoiding necessary healthcare intervention because the status quo does not meet their needs. Suvida is here to change the paradigm.”
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