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Study Shows that Hospital Care is Becoming More Accessible to Many Limited-English-Proficient New Yorkers

Study Shows that Hospital Care is Becoming More Accessible to Many Limited-English-Proficient New Yorkers

Friday, April 18, 2008

For the full report, please click on the PDF links at the bottom of this page.

The Equitable and Effective Government Initiative (EEGI) is a partnership between Make the Road New York (MRNY) and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) to assess the implementation of the New York State Department of Health's 2006 regulations strengthening communication assistance requirements at all public and private hospitals in New York State. Through the Initiative, MRNY and the NYIC partnered with Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS), and together engaged in monitoring of hospitals and surveys of limited-English-proficient (LEP) patients at 10 hospitals in New York City in late 2007 -- one year after the State regulation went into effect.

Findings from this study indicate that there is significant progress communicating with Spanish-speaking patients across both public and private hospitals in New York City. However, the findings demonstrate that hospitals' communication with Korean-speaking patients remains a problem, and raises concerns about hospital communication with patients in common languages other than Spanish and English.

Effective September 2006, the new State regulation requires hospitals to notify patients of the availability of free language assistance services, and to provide interpretation services to all limited-English-proficient patients in a timely manner. This law provides standards that hospitals must meet in order to ensure that patients have meaningful access to services by reducing communication barriers, and thereby reducing the incidence of medical errors and harm. The findings from EEGI indicate that these standards are guiding hospitals in the right direction, particularly with regard to ensuring appropriate communication with Spanish-speaking patients. Nonetheless, there is significant room for improvement to achieve fully equitable access to health care for all New Yorkers.

In order to measure compliance with the recently enacted State regulation, the EEGI partner organizations developed a patient survey instrument and a hospital walk-through guide for health advocates at Make the Road New York and Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York to assess communication assistance services available for language minorities. MRNY conducted 529 surveys in Spanish at ten different hospitals throughout the summer and fall of 2007. Representatives of MRNY also conducted a walk-through study in which they assessed public notice and assistance for limited-English-proficient patients entering and navigating the halls and waiting areas of the hospital and some of its clinics. In order to draw a comparison between hospital services across language groups, KCS participated in EEGI by conducting 88 patient surveys and a walk-through study with Korean-speaking patients in late 2007 and early 2008 at two of the same hospitals monitored by MRNY.

Overall, we spoke with 617 limited-English-proficient patients at ten public and private hospitals in 2007-8. Data from the following ten hospitals is presented in this report:

Public Hospitals (5):
*NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation
*Elmhurst Hospital Center
*Harlem Hospital Center
*Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center
*Queens Hospital Center
*Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center

Private hospitals (5):
*Beth Israel Medical Center
*MediSys Health Network -- 2 hospitals
*Jamaica Hospital Medical Center
*Flushing Hospital Medical Center
*New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center
*Wyckoff Heights Medical Center

For the full report, please click on the PDF links below.

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