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The Alce Su Voz Community Council Forges the Path for Our Newest Project

Updated: Jan 21, 2023

Alce su voz community members gathered last Saturday at the Evergreen Community Center and Library to collaborate on our newest funded initiative “Improving Healthcare Language Access for Spanish Speakers in Kansas.” The project, funded by the Office of Minority Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, aims to improve health outcomes for Spanish speakers in Kansas by advancing systems for providing healthcare language access, such as professional interpreting services.

Dr. Rachel Showstack, the Project Director and President of Alce su voz, organized the Community Council meeting to present the project plan and request community input on how the project team will assess the project’s effectiveness. The presentation, group work, and discussion were all held in Spanish, and participants enjoyed pan dulce from Juarez Bakery while engaging in the scholarly conversation.

Improving healthcare language access requires tackling a complex problem from many different directions. It involves creating a structure that positions healthcare interpreters as valued professionals, preparing doctors and nurses to care for culturally diverse patients and collaborate with interpreters, engaging community members in conversations about their rights, streamlining a system for financing interpreting services, and developing a pipeline for bilingual youth to become medical interpreters and qualified bilingual clinicians.

In her presentation at the Community Council meeting, Dr. Showstack introduced the five project teams, each tackling a different component of the problem.

Get to know the team leaders so that you can be involved in the conversation moving forward!

· The Community Engagement and Education Team, led by Denise Romero of Salud + Bienestar, will focus on engaging Spanish-speaking community members in Wichita and rural parts of Kansas, in workshops related to healthcare access.

· The Interpreter Engagement and Education Team, led by Rommy Vargas-Bezzubikoff, founder and president of Spanish Ad Hoc Translations, and Marixendra Alvarez, founder and president of CJS Translation Services, will work toward the professionalization of the interpreter role through engaging interpreters in workshops and training opportunities.

· The Hospital and Clinic Engagement Team, led by Dr. Nikki Keene Woods of the Wichita State Department of Public Health Sciences, will investigate systems for providing and financing interpreting services.

· The Clinician Development Team, led by Dr. Colleen Loo-Gross of the KU-Wichita Department of Family and Community Medicine, will create video-based professional development opportunities for healthcare providers on working with interpreters and on ethically utilizing an additional language when caring for patients.

· Finally, the Applied Learning Team, led by Dr. Showstack, who is also an Associate Professor of Spanish in Wichita State’s Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, will build partnerships to develop learning opportunities for future interpreters and future bilingual clinicians in high school, college, and medical school.

The team is fortunate to count on leadership from the community, and especially the newly formed Community Council, and support from Wichita State’s Public Policy and Management Center.

Since the project has received a federal grant, the team must conduct research on its effectiveness through surveys and other data collection methods. Alce su voz has always been a community-based organization and has built its direction based on input from the community. Grant projects are no different, and the input received from the Community Council is necessary to ensure that our work continues to benefit Spanish speakers in Kansas.

If you are interested in being a part of the Community Council, please follow Alce su voz on Facebook and Instagram and keep an eye out for future events!

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