Clinica Latina finds success in Charlottesville

Published: Jan. 30, 2022 at 8:20 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The Charlottesville Free Clinic works to provide care for the uninsured and underinsured. Clinica Latina focuses on providing a fully Spanish experience for patients two evenings every month.

“The goal of Clinica Latina is to reduce the health disparities for Hispanic members of our community and we do that by providing a full Spanish-speaking medical experience. So, during a Clinica Latina night patients are treated by Spanish-speaking staff, and medical providers all the way from the moment they open the door to the moment they get their prescription at the end of their appointment,” said Willa Barnhardt with the Charlottesville Free Clinic.

In just the past few years, it’s more than doubled the percentage of Hispanic patients it is seeing.

“The program began in 2016 and we’ve already seen a really dramatic increase in Hispanic patients at the Free Clinic. So, in 2014, we had 13% and in 2021, we had 30%,” Barnhardt said.

Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, having a doctor who you can trust and speaks your language is key.

“I definitely think that helped, again, break down the barriers, it helped patients feel more comfortable and by feeling more comfortable you’re more willing to have a vaccine that you might not understand fully,” said Barnhardt.

The program partially works for free by getting volunteers to make this clinic possible.

“We rely on volunteers from the UVA Latino Health Initiative, as well as volunteers that we recruit on our own to create their environment, and it helps open the door to healthcare for our working uninsured and underinsured Spanish neighbors,” said Barnhardt.

The clinic is a place to go not for emergencies, but for minor illnesses, chronic conditions, and mental health care.

“By providing a home for primary care, we can help treat common diagnosis is like, hypertension, or diabetes, depression. And primary care is essential, because then that helps further down the line with other diseases or illnesses and it’s just another way to keep our community safe and healthy,” said Barnhardt.

The nights for the Clinica Latina are the first Tuesday and third Thursday of each month.

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