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Bilingual medical staff need grows with population

Amarillo, Texas - There is now a greater demand for bilingual medical staff here in the panhandle due to the ever growing Hispanic population.

The latest census in 2010 reported Amarillo's Hispanic population was nearly 30 percent, but the Amarillo Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says it's much larger now.

A problem many of this population faces is communication when it comes to their medical needs.

"There is a need because, I mean my mom is Hispanic and she has trouble when she goes, and she needs to have an interpreter, or I go with her sometimes to help her out to translate. I think it is important because not everybody has that," Vanessa Deanda, Amarillo Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says.

Area doctors say they see patients on a daily basis who don't fluently speak English. Language barriers make it difficult to provide complete medical care.

"Especially for procedures. The last thing you want is a patient after a procedure say, they never told me that there was this possible complication. That should all be very clearly explained to the patient's satisfaction before they sign on that line," Osvaldo Regueira, M.D., Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Department of Pediatrics says.

But, has the growing population of Hispanics and refugees created a need for more bilingual staff?

"By all means. Yes. No question. Because all the times I've been surprised. Even with Spanish that is so common in this community... At night time how difficult it is so find somebody who is capable of translating and doing so properly," Regueira says.

Dr, Regueira says anyone can translate buying a coke and fries, but medical procedures are different. The need is far greater. Even current staff who are bilingual say they need more help translating.

"There's not enough of us around, so we get pulled quite a bit, whether it's a receptionist up front, or it's a nurse that's getting pulled. We only have three probably about three physicians that speak Spanish here at our health field," Israel Garcia TTUHSC senior LVN says.

Doctors say there is currently a translation system available by phone, but the need for face to face translation remains high.

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