April 17, 2017
By Sarah Heth
Hope College and Holland Hospital teamed up to address health issues specific to the area’s Latino community.
This semester, the college offered a new class: Spanish for Pre-Health with Service to the Community.
“This is a class that is open to anyone and everyone who is at least in the 300 level of Spanish and is interested in pursuing the medical field,” said Berta Carrasco, assistant professor of Spanish at Hope and instructor for the class.
She helped create the class, and when doing so, “I decided it would be amazing if we added service to the Latino community,” she said. So she approached Holland Hospital to see what kinds of needs they had and how the two might be able to team up in a mutually beneficial way.
“The goal of this partnership is to help the students better understand the health care environment while the students help us better understand our Hispanic patients, their culture and their practices,” said Tim Breed, community relations director at Holland Hospital, in an email.
Now, Carrasco has 13 students working in teams at Holland Hospital in several areas: Emergency, Behavioral Health Services, Endoscopy, Boven Birth Center and Diabetes Prevention program through the Center for Good Health.
The first half of the class was spent on learning some new vocabulary and getting a really good understanding of the cultural differences of the Latino community.
“My idea was for the students to become culturally competent,” Carrasco said. “The vocabulary was the least important part of the class.”
The most important part, she said, has been the service work with the hospital.
“The most important part of this class is the final part because of the impact on the community,” she said.
The students work on their projects at the hospital three times a week. In the emergency room, the students are helping to create explanatory videos for Spanish-speaking people. They have videos like this in English, but not Spanish yet.
Many of the projects include sharing information in Spanish, creating pamphlets and videos, and getting the word out in other ways.
The diabetes program is one of those. Last week, the two students on that team worked with the Children’s After School Achievement program at Hope to educate the younger students on the risk of Type 2 diabetes — and how easy it is to prevent.
“In general, for sure the Latin American community has a higher risk of developing diabetes,” said Michelle McArthur, health and wellness coach at Holland Hospital. “So what we’re really hoping with the message is not to stress the fact that people are at risk so much as to stress the fact that you can be empowered to lower your risk.”
After working with the children, they sent each home with pamphlets in Spanish and English, hoping parents would gain the same information.
“(The Latino community) has been a demographic we’ve been trying to reach with limited success,” McArthur said.
“My frustration has been, I’m a diabetes educator, and in general it’s very difficult to get the message of diabetes prevention out,” she said. “Then we multiply the difficulty times two because of the language barrier.”
For her part of the program, the students plan to create public service announcements in more places, such as the Spanish newspaper and Spanish radio stations.
And to do that, the students had to do first learn all about the risks and preventions for Type 2 diabetes.
“I guarantee they did their research,” McArthur said.
The class has benefited the Hope students as well as Holland Hospital.
“Kudos for the investment of time of people at the hospital,” Carrasco said. “It’s been exciting to me to see students so involved in projects.’”
It’s the service part of the class that raises the stakes and makes it so more interesting to the students, she said.
“I think the students have a gained at least a rewarding feeling that what (they are) doing is going to help so many people.”
“It’s awesome. I’m hoping it’s a win-win,” she said. “They have time to devote to a project that I wish I had more time to devote to myself. They also have a lot of energy and a lot of really great ideas.”
While they won’t be offering the class right away again next year, they do plan to offer it — or something similar — again in the future, Carrasco said.
Source: Holland Sentinel