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UIHC creates Spanish website

BY ANDREW POTOCKI | JULY 14, 2015 5:00 AM

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Seeing a doctor from the comfort of your own home no longer has as many language barriers now; the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics has launched the first-ever Spanish speaking virtual clinic, UIeSalud.

“We want to be able to treat anyone regardless of language, and a lot of people both English and Spanish use technology,” said Professor Patrick Brophy, the assistant vice president of UIHC’s ehealth and enovation.

The website is based on the English-language virtual clinic UIHC created fewer than two months ago, UIeCare.

On both sites, people can see a doctor right from their laptop, tablet, or smart phone for a flat fee of $50.

In addition to being in Spanish, Brophy said the new site has two Spanish speaking doctors available to administer care. If the physicians are not available at the time, then an interpreter will assist another doctor from the English-speaking site.

Brophy said officials have the same goals for UIeSalud as they did for UIeCare — to help treat but also educate the patients about their illness esand symptoms.

“When you have a patient, it’s not just about treating a patient’s illness but also teaching them about the illness,” said Diana Zepeda-Orozco, a UI pediatrics clinical assistant professor and Spanish speaker.

Zepeda-Orozco said she likes the idea of having a 24-hour Spanish-speaking virtual clinic, saying that while it would be nice to have a very large number of Spanish speaking doctors on staff, that is very unrealistic.

Using an interpreter is good but not the same, she said. With an interpreter, it’s harder to tell a patient about a more complex medical illness as well as establish a trusting relationship between patient and physician.

“It’s nice to have someone in your own language reassure you that everything is going to be OK,” Zepeda-Orozco said.

Many primarily Spanish-speaking citizens in Iowa City have had trouble finding physicians who can properly treat them.

According to the State Data Center of Iowa, in 2013, the estimated Latino population in the state was 168,806, making them 5.5 percent of the state’s population and its largest minority.

A little under half of this population, 41 percent, reported they had poor English skills.

Iowa City resident Margarita Baltizar, a native Spanish speaker who doesn’t speak English, said she often has a lot of trouble finding a doctor who can help her whenever her 1-year-old daughter shows signs of sickness.

“Anytime I need to see a doctor about my child, I have to go all the way to Riverside or find someone who can translate,” she said through an interpreter.

Baltizar said she tries to go to the UIHC, it always refers her elsewhere because there is never a Spanish-speaking doctor on staff when she goes.

Baltizar also said she sees a lot of advantages in having a Spanish online site especially because a lot of the times she just needs to see a doctor quickly to check on her baby’s symptoms.

“Finally, I won’t have to find a Spanish and English speaker every time I need to see a doctor,” she said.


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