Hospital's transplant program a big draw for Hispanics

Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago takes cultural competency to a new level with its transplant program.

Kidney transplants for Hispanic patients have nearly doubled to 41 from 22 between 2005 and 2010 at the facility thanks to the creation of the only known transplant program conducted all in Spanish, according to Dr. Juan Carlos Caicedo, a transplant surgeon and the program's director. Caicedo realized that a large Hispanic market was not being served and decided to remedy the situation.

"Something that really surprised me was hearing a patient say that he had called 10 different transplant centers, but because they all answered the phone in English, he would hang up," Caicedo said, according to Fox News Latino.

In contrast, Northwestern's Hispanic Transplant Program tries be culturally sensitive. Twenty-four of the clinic's staff members, including nurses, nephrologists, cardiologists, appointment schedulers, social workers and accountants, speak Spanish.

What's more, educational sessions are conducted in Spanish, and entire families are welcome to learn more about disease and treatment options. As Caicedo notes, many patients want to involve the whole family when discussing their medical care. This makes sense, because in Hispanic families, often the family decision makers are elders who speak Spanish. "Customizing patient care applies, not only to specific medical treatments, but also to recognizing how cultural differences affect the patient," he said in a statement.

Hispanics in Americas see a high incidence of obesity, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, all of which may lead to organ transplants. According to the National Kidney Foundation, 16,000 of the more than 90,000 people on the waiting list for a new kidney are Hispanic.

Northwestern's program was launched in December 2006. In August, the hospital announced that it will add a liver transplant clinic tailored to the needs of Hispanic patients.  

To learn more:
- read the Northwestern Memorial press release about the liver clinic
- here's the Fox News Latino article

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