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En Español

About the Organization

En Español is a new nonprofit organization (2002) founded by a Latino philanthropist to improve access to health care for Latino residents in the Greater Birmingham region. Its mission is to bridge the gap between health care providers and the Latino community.


Children’s Health System, Public Health Area V, Cooper Green Hospital, Birmingham Health Care, St. Vincent’s Hospital, The Valencia Group, Baptist Health System, Central Alabama Alliance for Latino Health.

About the Service Area

The grant will serve the Greater Birmingham area, which includes Jefferson, Blounty, Shelby, and St. Clair counties.

Click here to view a map of their service area.

Existing Language Services

Most of En Español’s partners utilize bilingual staff to assist patients with language needs, though few interpreters have been formally tested for language or interpreting ability; usually language ability is assessed via bilingual conversation with a supervisor. Most health care providers acknowledge that current language services are insufficient, and more is needed.

A relatively low unemployment rate (3.1%) and strong economy is among many attributes of Birmingham that have attracted newcomers. The most common employment options are in the poultry/agricultural industry, construction, and service sector. Because of the nature of the available jobs, men are more likely to find work than women. Many jobs are physically demanding and may impact the services requested as more Latinos join the work force. Additional health needs, determined through focus groups and surveys, include reproductive services and treatment for respiratory illness, both of which can be expected in a relatively young population.

One indicator of the growth in the Latino population is found in the increased number of visits to health care facilities, which increased from 44 in 1994 to over 13,000 in the year 2000. Most immigrants are originally from Mexico, with Colombians, Venezuelans, and Guatemalans also represented. Males are over-represented, as they often immigrate to secure employment and housing before sending for their families. The average age of Latinos in the Birmingham area is 27.6, and the majority of adults are married, with an average family having two children. Once in Birmingham, Latinos tend to stay. Home-ownership is on the rise, and the high-school drop out rate is decreasing.

The Latino Population in the Service Area

Latinos in 1990: 3,765
Latinos in 2000: 16,598
% Increase: 441%
Total Population: 921,106

En Español will use its health access, training and mentoring programs to test new methods for meeting the health care needs of the area’s Latino population. Specifically, En Español will train medical interpreters and provide communication case management services through a network of interpreters and translators. The goal of these activities is to foster organizational change in the environment of the seven medical partners serving as providers in the project. In addition, En Español will facilitate greater understanding between patients and providers by establishing a series of health literacy classes that will include English lessons for the community, Spanish lessons for area providers and conversational Spanish courses focused on health topics for high school students.

In the News

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards En Español $850,000

October 24, 2003 - the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation awards $850,000 to En Español to begin implementing its three-pronged strategy for improving communication between health care providers and those who speak English as a second language.




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