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New Clinic Has a Cure for Cultural Differences

FOCUS: ORANGE COUNTY COMMUNITY NEWS | COUNTYWIDE

March 14, 1998|YUNG KIM

The new Public Health West Clinic in Westminster has three signs for every message it conveys: Whether it's "No smoking" or "When you cough, hold your nose and mouth," the signs are written in English, Spanish and Vietnamese.

The clinic also has employees who speak Cambodian, Laotian, Tagalog, Romanian, Liberian, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Indeed, the new clinic is geared toward providing free help to immigrants from a variety of countries who lack money and insurance.

Opened in January by the county's Health Care Agency, the clinic specializes in treating tuberculosis and helping meet the nutritional needs of women, infants and children. It is based on a similar county clinic that serves eastern Orange County.

The 8,400-square-foot clinic at 14120 Beach Blvd. is primarily used by Vietnamese and Latino immigrants. But Randee Bautista, a supervising registered nurse, said the clinic is prepared to handle anybody who walks through the door, no matter what language they speak.

"When people come here [from other countries], they are already experiencing culture shock," Bautista said. "Other cultures are different, but we have the ability to understand the differences."

Clinic services include 10 fieldworkers who make house calls to deliver medication to patients, especially those with tuberculosis, said Dr. Penny Weismuller, the division manager of the clinic.

"Tuberculosis patients must take their medicine for six months, or it won't get better and could become more serious if patients develop a drug resistance," she said.

More than 300 tuberculosis patients were treated by the county last year.

The clinic also offers a federally funded Women, Infants and Children nutritional program, which distributes as much as $120 a month in food vouchers, said David Thiessen, nutrition services manager.

"We want to make inroads into the community, and if we can talk to one mom, she can tell others," he said.

The clinic, open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, will be holding an open house March 24 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. to celebrate its grand opening.

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