$100,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation to improve health equity for non-native English speakers

Alce Su Voz

One’s health depends on their ability to advocate for themselves in medical settings. To properly articulate symptoms requires precise language, often including technical medical terminology. After all, misdiagnoses can lead to more costly appointments or far worse – fatality.

This pressure exists for all patients, but non-English speakers face the greatest risk of miscommunication between medical providers who default to English for paperwork, phone communications and appointments. This linguistic gap is the exact target of Alce Su Voz (Speak Out) at Wichita State, a program aimed at increasing health equity for speakers of Spanish and Mesoamerican Indigenous languages.

“Our vision is a future in which marginalized language communities have the knowledge, skills and resources they need to attain the highest possible level of health and wellbeing,” Rachel Showstack, associate professor of Spanish and principal investigator, said. “We are already seeing more and more interest in language access planning in hospitals and city governments across the state.”

The program’s vision of health equity piqued the interest of the Kansas Health Foundation, a philanthropy dedicated to improving the health of all Kansans.

“The Building Power and Equity Partnership through the Kansas Health Foundation addresses health disparities, such as those created by linguistic inequity,” Showstack said. “Through this partnership, we have engaged in community-based activities that support civic engagement in Spanish-speaking communities, including access to mental health care services for speakers of Spanish and Mesoamerican Indigenous languages.”

Along with the partnership, the foundation bestowed Alce Su Voz at Wichita State with a $100,000 grant.

“The Kansas Health Foundation sees the potential to expand the program’s reach and impact,” said Lindsey Prewitt, associate director for foundation grants at the WSU Foundation and Alumni Engagement. “This grant will be integral to making the mission and vision of Alce Su Voz at Wichita State a reality.”

The Kansas Health Foundation is a philanthropy dedicated to improving the health of all Kansans. For more information about the Kansas Health Foundation, visit www.kansashealth.org.

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