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  • SCU’s Health Center Provides Healthcare Support and Opportunities for Hispanic Americans

SCU’s Health Center Provides Healthcare Support and Opportunities for Hispanic Americans

 

Language and cultural barriers, along with lack of access to health insurance and preventive medical care all contribute to the challenges Hispanic Americans face when it comes to receiving healthcare. To meet this need, Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) and SCU Health’s University Health Center are dedicated to providing accessible care to underserved populations and fostering transformational leaders in healthcare who will contribute to improving health outcomes for Hispanic patients.

SCU and its clinical center, SCU Health, are located in Whittier, California, a state where Hispanics are the largest racial and ethnic group at 40% of the population, which is more than double the national percentage.

Spanish is the second most spoken language in the U.S., and Hispanics are the largest racial or ethnic minority in the U.S. As of 2022, The Census Bureau estimated that there were approximately 63.7 million Hispanics in the U.S., making up 19% of the nation’s population.

Despite this, in a Pew Research Center survey on Hispanic American experiences with health care, 44% reported that communication problems related to language or cultural differences were a major reason why Hispanic people have generally worse health outcomes than other adults in the U.S.

Equitable and Accessible Healthcare for Hispanic American Patients

SCU Health in Whittier ensures Spanish-speaking patients have the support they need, from Spanish-speaking front desk staff and Chiropractic and Acupuncture clinicians. SCU Health also hosts free monthly Community Outreach Clinics, which began in June 2020 as a way to serve the community and help prepare SCU Health students as future physicians.

In addition to offering free chiropractic services to the community, the monthly Community Outreach Clinics collect donations to directly benefit La Habra’s nonprofit Meals on Wheels, a local organization providing home-delivered meals for anyone unable to prepare or obtain adequate meals, regardless of race, religion, sex, age, or ability to pay.

Dr. Xavier Ortiz Ramirez and students

Dr. Xavier Ortiz Ramirez DC, MD, CME, IIE, SCU-UHC Clinical Faculty is a strong proponent of SCU’s dedication to inclusivity and health equity. “I’ve witnessed firsthand how healthcare outcomes can vary based on a patient’s resources and insurance coverage,” Dr. Ramirez said.

“This isn’t just a challenge in the U.S.; it’s a global issue. Access to cutting-edge treatments and timely care often hinges on financial factors. It’s a complex dance between quality, time, and fair compensation for healthcare workers.”

Importance of Heritage for Faculty and Students

Dr. Ramirez knew from a young age that he wanted to pursue a career in healthcare. “At the ripe age of 16, I embarked on my healthcare journey,” he said. “[I started] initially as an EMT, fueled by the dream of becoming a doctor someday. This dream was deeply rooted in my family’s legacy, especially my grandfather, who proudly served as a medic in the United States Army.”

Eira Perez, Term 10 Doctor of Chiropractic student

For Eira Perez, Term 10 Doctor of Chiropractic student, her family and heritage also played a strong role in her choosing to pursue a career in healthcare. “My dad has been my biggest supporter in pursuing a career in healthcare. He has worked in construction all his life, and at a young age, it was my responsibility to be his translator for his doctor appointments,” she said.

“I saw firsthand how important inclusivity in healthcare was, due to my father’s language barrier it was difficult for him to understand what the doctors were telling him. He has been my biggest supporter and the reason why I have promised to always educate my patients and give them the patient-centered care they deserve.”

Dr. Ramirez also spoke about the important role his Spanish plays in his own clinical work. “There’s a unique ‘sabor’ that we Puerto Ricans share, and it forms an instant connection with my Spanish-speaking patients,” he said. “Speaking their native language builds trust, rapport, and compliance. It’s a powerful tool that enhances the patient’s experience.”

Inclusivity in Education and Care

For Dr. Ramirez, his Puerto Rican heritage is an integral part of his identity and provides him with a unique lens through which he views healthcare.

“Inclusivity is the bridge that closes the gaps in healthcare accessibility for underserved populations,” he said. “When we welcome diverse students into healthcare programs, they become the vital links connecting their communities to care.”

“These links facilitate access to providers who not only understand the cultural nuances but also empathize with the unique challenges faced by minority groups. Inclusivity isn’t just important; it’s a cornerstone of equitable healthcare.”

To learn more about SCU, visit scuhs.edu/.

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