Yampa Valley agencies work to reach non-English speakers about importance of mammograms
Nonprofit agencies and health care providers in the Yampa Valley are trying to help non-English speaking women receive mammograms in a seamless fashion.
As a new person moving to Northwest Colorado, housing, jobs, child care, family and transportation often top the priority list for women, above their own health needs and wellness screenings.
Add any language barrier, and having a mammogram might fall to the bottom of the to-do list, despite the importance of regular screenings.
About one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime, and experts say breast cancer survivor rates are much higher when caught early, when the cancer is localized in the body.
Women new to town and without adequate health insurance may visit Integrated Community and learn about primary care physicians, which often means a referral to Northwest Colorado Health, said Nelly Navarro, executive director at nonprofit Integrated Community.
At Northwest Colorado Health, the first medical visit includes baseline questions to establish if a woman is receiving care for important health issues such as dental exams, pap smear and mammogram. From there, a care coordinator can contact one of the two Yampa Valley hospitals to submit a scheduling request for a mammogram.
For screenings at the UCHealth Gloria Gossard Breast Cancer Center in Steamboat Springs, hospital staff can preschedule an in-person interpreter to meet patients when they check-in for a mammogram.
Navarro said the cost of a mammogram usually is a first question for non-English speaking clients. The basic price for a mammogram and any necessary follow-up ultrasounds range from $500 to $600 each. However, several financial assistance programs are available, ranging from the Women’s Wellness Connection via Northwest Colorado Health, to UCHealth resources, to the Bust of Steamboat.
Lindsey Reznicek, communications strategist at Yampa Valley Medical Center, noted that under the Affordable Care Act, most private health insurers must provide coverage of women’s preventive health care such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer and prenatal care with no cost sharing.
Navarro said other barriers to health care come into play such as transportation, especially bus transportation to appointments from southern Routt County, or navigating financial assistance for follow-up breast screenings such as an ultrasound.
“From what I’ve seen, Northwest Colorado Health does a great job at getting every patient to get a mammogram,” Navarro said. “The problem comes from extra screenings and concerns about costs. If they need an ultrasound, people opt out because of the financial reasons.”
Jan Fritz, retired former director of cancer services at YVMC and now board member for the nonprofit Yampa Valley Breast Cancer Awareness Project, also known as Bust of Steamboat, said lower income patients can ask about funding assistance at the Gloria Gossard Breast Care Center or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Fritz said the Bust of Steamboat assisted 425 cancer patients in the past five years, while distributing $211,000 for patient and equipment needs.
Women who qualify financially can sign up for the Well Women’s Connection program at Northwest Colorado Health, with information available at NorthwestColoradoHealth.org/womenshealth. The connection is a statewide program that offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings at more than 100 clinics across Colorado.
According to patient volume data from Gloria Gossard Breast Care Center, approximately 90 non-English speaking patients receive mammograms at the center each year. That number reached 90 by Sept. 21, indicating an upward trend.
In-person, qualified medical interpreters for Spanish-speaking patients are available for screening mammograms and other appointments at UCHealth Gloria Gossard Breast Care Center and other appointments at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. To make an appointment with the help of a Spanish interpreter, please call 888-538-6674.
Brindamos intérpretes médicos profesionales en persona para ayudar a pacientes que hablan español durante las mamografías rutinarias y otras consultas en UCHealth Gloria Gossard Breast Care Center, además de otras citas en UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. Para programar una cita en español con la ayuda de un intérprete, llame al 888-538-6674.
Navarro said another issue for women’s breast health care for newcomers who are learning english may be receiving previous screening results from a medical provider in another country for comparison to a current screening. Navarro previously worked as a medical interpreter at both Yampa Valley Medical Center and Northwest Colorado Health, and she estimated that 70% of the time, records from other countries are not accessible.
Raquel Marin, a language services coordinator for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center said patients for whom English is a second language are asked to sign a waiver if they decline assistance from a certified medical interpreter, but that rarely happens. Hospital staff discourage family members or friends from interpreting for patients because “family members are emotionally invested and can unknowingly make some of the medical terminology mistakes,” Marin said.
“We do encourage folks to use the interpretation services even when they feel they are bilingual,” Marin said. “We do let them know that with the medical terminology, things can get tricky, and things can get lost. We also ask that the provider feels comfortable with the communication.”
If the patient’s first-language is not available from an in-person interpreter, a virtual interpretation service is available. Marin said the biggest interpretation needs are Spanish and then French, followed by Russian or Vietnamese.
“Not being able to communicate with a provider in your native language can provide more stress,” Navarro said.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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