Hispanic Medical Program Launched

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, has launched a Hispanic Medical Program as part of its ongoing efforts to expand access to care for members of underserved communities.

Manuel Nolasco Munoz of Bound Brook serves as a bilingual patient navigator for the program, assisting with translation, making medical appointments, helping patients understand their discharge instructions and plan of care and assisting with filling out forms. He will also work closely with the hospital’s Community Health Department to assist at community outreach events and health screenings.

The program is modeled after the hospital’s successful Chinese Medical Program, which launched in 2018, and its Indian Medical Program, which launched in 2019.

“We recognize that language can be a significant barrier to patients getting the preventive health care services they need, accessing medical treatment and complying with their treatment plan after they leave the hospital,” said Tony Cava, president and chief executive officer, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset. “The COVID-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affected members of the Hispanic community, underscored the importance of providing culturally and linguistically competent care to improve health outcomes.”

In 2020, the hospital mounted an aggressive bilingual community outreach campaign to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and promote COVID-19 vaccinations among the Hispanic community.

Through events held in collaboration with local schools, churches, food banks, health departments and municipalities, the hospital’s Community Health and Diversity & Inclusion departments and SALUD Business Resource Group distributed masks, hand sanitizers and soaps as well as Spanish-language educational materials. PPE kits were also distributed to support local businesses owned by members of the Hispanic community who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The hospital also partnered with local organizations to reach out to members of the Hispanic community to increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

In recognition of these efforts, the hospital was awarded the 2021 NJBiz Healthcare Hero Award for Public Health and the 2021 New Jersey Hospital Association’s Healthy New Jersey Award.

The hospital also formed a Latino Advisory Council in 2020 with about 20 representatives from local government, businesses and organizations serving the Latino community as part of its community outreach efforts. As a result of input from the group, the hospital launched a new online health education series in Spanish for members of the Latino community, including Webinars on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine.

To contact the Hispanic Medical Program at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, call 908-927-8798.