I have been volunteering for La Clínica del Pueblo for the spring 2016 semester. La Clínica is a community based health center that serves the Latino and immigrant community, located in Columbia Heights. One of La Clínicas main objectives is to provide culturally competent, high quality, affordable health care to all members of the community, even if they are uninsured. It is organizations like La Clínica del Pueblo that make a huge impact on communities that need healthcare the most. Many people who visit La Clínica do not speak English, so it would be hard for them to go anywhere else to receive the high quality treatment they receive there. The staff and volunteers at La Clínica del Pueblo really strive to make the clinic feel warm and welcoming so that all the patrons feel welcome and safe. La Clínica also offers mental health services, this is very important, especially for the immigrants and refugees who may have had traumatic experiences coming to the United States, or living in their home countries. Individual, couples, and family counseling is available to anybody, as well as various support groups.
Luckily for me, on my first day of volunteering, La Clínica was hosting an event called Tamales y Café where members of the community are invited to come in and learn about La Clínica del Pueblo and what services are offered there, so I was able to learn all about it, and take a very thorough tour of the building. Since then I have been working with the interpreter’s department to organize and scan the interpreter’s documents into the computer system. The interpreter department is another special and very important part of La Clínica del Pueblo, they offer translators for patients who need to see doctors who do not speak the patient’s language. They offer translators for many languages, but most are used to translate for Spanish patients.
The volunteer job with the interpreter department relates very well to my Multicultural Health class here at American University. On many occasions, we discuss in class why language is such a big barrier to providing and getting the best quality healthcare. By working in this department I can get the chance to see just how many translators are needed in just this community, it is really amazing that La Clínica del Pueblo is able to offer this service to its patrons and other members of the community. They are helping to make healthcare available to everybody, especially those who other healthcare systems may overlook because of socioeconomic status, and often times, those are the people who need quality healthcare the most.