By Michael Coughlin Jr.
Equity is one of the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center’s (EBNHC) biggest focuses this year in all facets. With equity in mind and to improve patient service, the EBNHC is creating the Office of the Patient Advocate.
In a press release, Greg Wilmot, EBNHC’s President and CEO said the office will “provide patients, a significant number of whom are immigrants and non-English speakers, with an additional access point to address and resolve any concern that may arise.”
Elida Acuña-Martínez, EBNHC’s Senior Director of Interpreter Services and the Office of the Patient Advocate, described what its creation means for over 100,000 patients that the health center serves.
“By creating this office, we send a clear message to our patients and empower them to advocate for themselves and their families. Our team is here to support them in doing just that,” said Acuña-Martínez in the same press release.
The creation of this office will undoubtedly be massive in the health center’s emphasis on equity in that it will serve patients that may face barriers in the healthcare realm. For example, according to statistics provided by EBNHC, 71% of its patients are below 200% of the federal poverty level, and 70% of patients are served best in a language that is not English.
Along with creating the Office of the Patient Advocate, the EBNHC has been hard at work in other areas to promote equity in its care.
The health center has created a diversified staff to better understand and serve its patients, with 50% of its 1,500 staff members being from its service area, 32% speaking Spanish, and 45% being Latinx.
EBNHC has also done tremendous work with its Interpreter Services Department, offering interpretation in-person, over the phone, and via video. EBNHC statistics revealed that the health center provided over 205,000 interpretations to patients in its last fiscal year with these services – a figure comparable to Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
As a new year gets underway, it is evident that with the creation of the Office of the Patient Advocate, the EBNHC is taking significant steps to provide the best and most equitable care to its patients.
“I know that East Boston Neighborhood Health Center is not just a medical provider, but a trusted-community-based organization that provides our neighbors with hope, care, and critical resources,” said Acuña-Martínez in the press release.
“We want our community to know that there are people in every corner of our organization who are here to advocate for them and help them achieve the best health care for themselves and their families,” said Wilmot in the press release.
For more information about the new office, you can visit https://www.ebnhc.org/en/visitorpatient-info/patient-experience.html.