Updated:LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —
The Hispanic population is growing quickly in central Florida and a new study shows Hispanic patients are less likely to get an annual medical exam or see a doctor regularly.
One medical center in central Florida is hiring more bilingual staff to make sure all patients get treatment in the language they understand.
Behavioral specialist Vanessa Bracero is bilingual and said it's a special skill that helps her connect with her patients. Bracero and part of the staff at Nuelife Nuero rehab facility in Lake County are bilingual. It's the area's newest trauma rehab center to open its doors and offer bilingual services.
"We wanted to provide that population a place with people that spoke their language that understood their culture, especially when you have a tramatic injury," Myrna Sueiro with Nuelife Nuero said.
While Hispanics make up 17 percent of the country's population, only 5 percent of doctors in the nation are Hispanic, according to the Libre Initiative, a national group that tracks Hispanic issues. The group believes it's why Latinos are the demographic least likely to see a doctor.
"All of a sudden you don't understand anything and you really need people that speak your language, that understand you," Sueiro said.
Bracero can attest to that, growing up with Spanish speaking parents.
"When I was little they used to take me to their doctors appointments with them so I could translate," Bracero said. "The times I couldn't go with them, they would miss out on those appointments."
Now Bracero is helping break down the language barrier one patient at a time at the Nuelife Nuero rehab facility.