CN-AHEC receives grant to improve health-care for Latinos

picture disc.The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) awarded an $850,000 implementation grant to the Central Nebraska Area Health Education Center (CN-AHEC) for their work in improving the health-care of Latinos in six counties in central Nebraska.

The grant was awarded through the RWJF national program Hablamos Juntos: Improving Patient-Provider Communication for Latinos. "Hablamos Juntos" translates from Spanish to English as "We Speak Together."

Continuing the work of Hablamos Juntos

The CN-AHEC was established in 2001 as part of a federal grant awarded to the Rural Health Education Network at UNMC to address the critical shortage of health care providers in Central Nebraska.

"We're extremely excited to be one of nine projects to continue the work of Hablamos Juntos," said Sarah Cunningham, Ph.D., executive director of the CN-AHEC and principal investigator for the grant. "The need for improving communications among Latino patients and health care providers grows larger everyday as Latinos seek a better life in Central Nebraska."

Improving services

"The Latino population continues to be a significant sector of health-consumers in central Nebraska but many of the projects initiated to address their needs have been initiated in isolation," said Marie de Martinez, FACHE, president of the CN-AHEC board of directors and vice president of business development and strategic planning for St. Francis Medical Center.

"This project will increase the availability and quality of interpretation services for Latino patients who speak little English," she said. "Our commitment is also to continue to provide useful materials in Spanish so that there are no detectable differences in the information that the Latino population receives and the services that they are provided. We are delighted that the CN-AHEC will lead the charge." De Martinez will serve on an Executive Forum for RWJF that will research the development of easy-to-understand ways for non-English speaking patients to find their way around health care facilities.

Using technology for training

The CN-AHEC project will focus on the use of technology for training and delivery of interpreter services within the six counties, Dr. Cunningham said. The training will be developed with the help of the Hablamos Juntos National Program Office administered by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute, an affiliated research unit of the University of Southern California School of Policy, Planning and Development; the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy at Columbia University; along with UNMC and Central Community College.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, based in Princeton, N.J., is the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and health care. It concentrates its grantmaking in four goal areas: to assure that all Americans have access to quality health care at reasonable cost; to improve the quality of care and support for people with chronic health conditions; to promote healthy communities and lifestyles; and to reduce the personal, social and economic harm caused by substance abuse -- tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs.

For more information

For more information on CN-AHEC, visit www.cn-ahec.org.