ATLANTA—A team of Georgia State University researchers has received a three-year, $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health to improve health services for non-native English speaking minority communities.
Iris Feinberg, research assistant professor in the College of Education & Human Development’s Department of Learning Sciences and associate director of the college’s Adult Literacy Research Center, will serve as the principal investigator on the grant project entitled, “Improving Cultural and Linguistic Access for Equitable Healthcare.”
She will work on the grant with co-principal investigator Dr. Amy Zeidan, assistant professor in Emory University’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Additional project investigators include Amy Nyman, research associate in Georgia State’s School of Public Health; John Bunting, director of the university’s Intensive English Program; Mary Helen O’Connor, director of the Center for Community Engagement at Perimeter College; and Kippie Lipham, director of Grady Memorial Hospital’s Language Interpretive Services.
The research team will collaborate with Grady Memorial Hospital’s emergency department and eight community-based organizations to increase awareness of and access to interpretive assistance in their language at no cost, a federal right protected under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Bilingual community members will have an opportunity for scholarships to train to become qualified medical interpreters. The top four languages requested at Grady are Spanish, Amharic, Bengali and French.
The grant project will aim to decrease miscommunication between medical personnel and patients by emphasizing the teach-back method, “a way of checking understanding by asking patients to state in their own words what they need to know or do about their health,” according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
They will also train Emory University, Morehouse School of Medicine and Grady clinical staff to use health literate tools when working with interpreters. These include the teach-back method and electronic health record documentation.
“Ten percent of Georgia’s adults are non-native English speakers. Many can converse or take care of daily needs in English. But when you’re sick and have to deal with the medical system, you are thrown into a foreign, technical, jargon-filled language and culture,” Feinberg said. “This grant allows us to work within the Grady Memorial Hospital organization to address systematic changes to improve cultural and linguistic responsiveness for non-native English speakers who receive care at the emergency department and primary care clinic.”