Idaho-based Hospice & Palliative Care of the Wood River Valley has initiated Spanish-speaking services in an effort to reach underserved Latino patients and families.
The organization recently held its first Spanish-speaking group for families at a local church. Additionally, the hospice provider is seeking a $5,000 grant from a local charity foundation to fund its new “language line,” a telephone translation service it will offer to Hispanic patients and families to help improve equitable access to care.
Hispanic populations represent a large portion of the patients and families in Wood River’s service region. However, language barriers can make those patients difficult to reach, according to Lisa Wild, executive director at Hospice & Palliative Care of the Wood River Valley.
“Right now, all of our bereavement support groups are in English only,” Wild told local news. ““We are working with St. Luke’s Community Health to hold a Spanish-speaking group through a translator.”
Hospice & Palliative Care of the Wood River Valley is part of the Idaho Health Continuum of Care Alliance, a group of post-acute health care providers.
In 2022, Hospice & Palliative Care of the Wood River Valley performed 2,622 registered nurse visits and assisted 1,638 individuals in its community, according to a recent newsletter. This is a rise from 1,367 individuals served in 2021, 135 of whom were hospice patients and families, according to an annual report.
In 2021 the organization had seven employees. In the past year, the organization has grown its interdisciplinary team with the addition of a new social worker and three registered nurses, Wood River indicated in a recent newsletter.
Established in 1985, the nonprofit organization provides hospice and palliative care across six cities in Blaine County, Idaho. Wood River reportedly provides care free of charge and does not bill insurance companies or Medicare.
Seniors 65 and older represent 21% of the county’s overall population, while nearly a quarter (23.9%) are Hispanic or Latino, reported the U.S. Census Bureau.
Despite the demand for palliative and hospice care among aging Latinos, these individuals make up only 5% – 6% of the organization’s patients, Wild stated. The disparity could be a result of poor communication and understanding around the nature of hospice and palliative care services, she added.
“It’s possible that this portion of the community doesn’t even know we exist,” Wild told local news.
Children represent another underserved population on the hospice’s radar, including bereavement support.
In the last year, Hospice & Palliative Care of the Wood River Valley indicated that it had restarted its grief program for children ages 6 to 12. Dubbed Finding Real Options for Grief Support (F.R.O.G.S ), the monthly support group serves youths who have experienced the loss of a parent or a close relative.
Peer support has been a focus of several recent pediatric bereavement programs among hospices, with providers increasingly citing the importance of social support in their efforts to engage and reach grieving youths.