Photo: Northwestern Memorial Hospital
“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,” said Chicago transplant surgeon and director of Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Hispanic-friendly program, Dr. Juan Carlos Caicedo.
Northwestern Memorial’s new transplant program was created after Caicedo realized that the Hispanic community was not receiving proper attention when it came to health care, specifically in regards to transplants.
The clinic offers assistance in what they call a “culturally-sensitive manner” as they are the only hospital in the United States that conducts their entire transplant program in Spanish in an attempt to tailor the process directly to the needs of Hispanic patients and their families.
The program, which began in December of 2006, is likely the central reason for the increased number of kidney transplants in Hispanic patients at the hospital as the number has risen from 22 transplants in 2005 to 41 so far in 2010.
A patient arriving at Northwestern will be given the option of the Spanish-language program, and Caicedo says about 75 percent of the Hispanic patients choose to be seen by Spanish-speaking staff members.
Caicedo, who was born in Bogota, Colombia, points out that the program will not move anyone up the transplant list any quicker as its only intention is to provide specialized attention to Hispanic families. The program also offers educational sessions in Spanish for families of patients in an attempt to inform entire families about the disease and its treatment options.
In August, the hospital announced it would expand to include liver transplants. Hispanics come in second for the number of people on the waiting list for liver transplants according to the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS).