October 4, 2019 // Diocese

Catholic partnership creates healthier communities

FORT WAYNE – With financial support from the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend brings lifesaving health care assistance to the Hispanic community.

Ana (whose name is changed to protect medical privacy) was not yet fluent in English, especially medical vocabulary. So Catholic Charities sent its Hispanic health advocate along to her doctor appointment. The ultrasound revealed her baby’s amniotic fluid was below average, and that the baby was measuring small. The doctor said that, if the trend continued, the baby would have to be delivered early to minimize the risk of a stillbirth.

With proper care and the help of the HHA, Ana was able to deliver a healthy baby at 39 weeks.

“Until their English fluency improves, our Hispanic Health Advocate program serves those who need Spanish-medical-interpretation services in vital areas such as health care,” said advocate Natalie Borjas.

Funded in part by a grant from the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, the Hispanic Health Advocate program was created to serve those in northeast Indiana who need Spanish-interpretation services in all vital areas of health care. Ana and her family are one of 122 families that CCFWSB served last year. All fell within the Indiana Poverty Guidelines of “low income/poor.”

Crucially, the HHA program provides long-term support to those lacking proficiency in English. A certified medical interpreter with specialized training in medical and dental terminology accompanies the client to the doctor’s office and interprets the entire conversation between the health care provider and the client. Without this service, chronic conditions or serious health concerns could go untreated.

“I can’t imagine going through that [pregnancy] alone and not being able to understand what was happening,” said Ana. “I’m so grateful because all my questions were answered by the doctor. I could ask whatever I wanted!”

In fiscal year 2018, Catholic Charities provided 494 visits and related services for medical, dental and school-related appointments. If the current trend continues, CCFWSB expects the number of clients and visits to double this year.

Clients usually learn about the program through word of mouth, although some clinics provide pamphlets containing information about the program.

CCFWSB helps further the mission of St. Joseph Community Health Foundation to strengthen, improve and sustain long-term community health in Allen County. Catholic Charities is a private 501(c)(3) incorporated in the state of Indiana to act as the coordinating and administrative agency for the charitable activities assigned to it by the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. The organization plans for, initiates, directs, supports and coordinates Catholic social-services programs for the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical welfare of persons in need; to seek and determine the causes of social problems in order to better promote preventative social-action programs; to participate in community planning and organization and work cooperatively with other individuals and groups in the field of social work. The service area for Catholic Charities includes the 14 counties of the diocese, encompassing 2,236 square miles, with a population of 1,247,850. Currently, Catholic Charities has offices in Fort Wayne (Allen County), Auburn (DeKalb County) and South Bend (St. Joseph County).

In fiscal year 2018-19, CCFWSB served 17,077 individuals at a fiscally responsible rate of .87 cents of every dollar dedicated to client services. The agency’s vision is to create Generation Zero: the first generation of children free from poverty. To learn more, visit: EradicatePoverty.org.

The St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, sponsored by the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, stewards resources to respond to community needs with grants, leverage collaboration with community partners and engage in transformational initiatives.

SJCHF serves the poor in body, mind and spirit to achieve quality health and wellness, focusing on the community of Allen County and may respond to needs among other underserved populations.

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