She Gives Patients Peace of Mind – Through creating authentic connections, Liduvina Portillo is making it easier for Spanish-speaking clients to get the care they need.
By Carrie Vittitoe | Photo by Kylene White
Liduvina was a licensed practical nurse at Park Duvalle Community Health Center who decided to become a family nurse practitioner for a variety of reasons. Of course, she likes health care, especially ob/gyn services, but she also saw a need among her Park Duvalle clients. “We saw a lot of patients who didn’t have insurance and who came from other countries with a lot of language barriers,” she says. “I saw the need for providers who speak Spanish.”
Now at Norton Community Medical Associates–La Clinica Preston in Okolona, she sees her role as a medical care provider but also as a dot-connector. The US healthcare system is complicated even for individuals who speak English. “For patients [for whom] English is not their first language, navigating the system is even harder,” she says. There have been occasions when Spanish-speaking patients who require surgery struggle to connect with doctors and facilities because they don’t fully understand the process. Liduvina has been happy to step in and smooth out the process so they can get the surgeries that will eliminate their pain and disease.
Liduvina is well-versed in many of the cultural practices of her clients that other medical providers might overlook, including the use of alternative medicines and dietary considerations. “I grew up in a family where there was a lot of alternative medicine. I try to validate what [patients] have been using and also educate them on why the medication is important,” she says.
As a native of El Salvador who immigrated to the US, Liduvina also understands what many of her patients have experienced themselves coming to the US. Plus, “there are a lot of things that are missed in translation. There’s feelings you can’t really describe. Having someone that speaks their language, they really feel that we understand them and that we’re here to advocate for them,” she says.
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