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Students transform clinic for Spanish speakers

Elizabeth Ogunrinde, Javier Laguillo, Michelle Ascanio, and Carlos Sanchez
Spanish-speaking students Elizabeth Ogunrinde, Javier Laguillo, Michelle Ascanio, and Carlos Sanchez volunteer at a nonprofit clinic in Mount Pleasant, SC.

Medical student Javier Laguillo speaks his patients' language on Spanish Night at the MUSC Health CARES Medical Clinic in more ways than one. "I was six when my family moved from Puerto Rico to Denver," he says. "It was a pretty drastic transition." So, he knows something about what the patients who come to the monthly Spanish Night at the clinic are facing.

The CARES Clinic is a nonprofit group that offers free basic health care, including blood pressure checks, diabetes care, flu tests and immunizations. Medical, pharmacy and physician assistant students from MUSC volunteer there along with licensed doctors. It's an after-hours clinic, open in the evenings three times a week.

Once a month, the clinic is staffed with students who speak Spanish and a doctor who is certified as a Spanish interpreter to care for patients who speak only Spanish. Laguillo helped make that happen. He sees it as a continuation of the way he grew up in the U.S. His family moved from Colorado to Arizona when he was young, and his mother and father, both community medicine doctors, worked to help low-income populations there.

CARES clinic student director of operations Celeste Jilich applauds Laguillo's drive to go beyond what's expected of an already busy doctor-in-training. She also sees Spanish Night as an important part of MUSC. “Spanish Night is an invaluable opportunity to provide comprehensive and culturally competent health care to our patients, regardless of national origin, first language, socioeconomic status, race or ethnicity,” she says.

Read the original article published in MUSC Catalyst News.