International Barriers

I can relate from personal experience, the difficulties getting accustomed to new a new atmosphere, new culture and just trying to stay afloat in a new life.

The US healthcare system is challenging enough for native American speakers, add any language barrier and it becomes almost impossible to understand. 

My parents migrated to the US just before I was born. They picked up their family of 6 and made the journey from Italy because of a job opportunity that my father received.  It was an opportunity to provide a better life for his family.  Now, several years later; they are grateful that they took that leap.  However, our family faced several struggles through the process as we adapted to our new life.

A few weeks after her arrival to Michigan, my mother started feeling sick, with some unusual symptoms.  She was just beginning to learn English and still did not have an established doctor. Without any opportunity for research, a recent acquaintance provided her with a number of a nearby doctor.  Her appointment ended with the doctor informing my mother that she had a large tumor in her uterus.  After about 2 months of various prescribed medications, her symptoms continued to worsen and the doctor informed her that the tumor was cancerous and continuing to grow.  He insisted that she have an urgent total hysterectomy performed. 

Of course, to a couple with 4 young children, who had just moved to a foreign new country-this was a lot to take in. Feeling that they had not had much of a choice, they trusted the doctor and proceeded with his recommendations. 

During the surgery, after her doctor’s scalpel opened up the uterus; to his surprise instead of a tumor-there was a baby sitting in there-nestled right next to an IUD.  The uterus was sutured and planned surgery aborted.

In recovery, my mother was informed of the news. Of course, she was relieved to find out she did not have cancer but shocked that she was pregnant, misdiagnosed and improperly treated. At the time, her doctor informed her that the fetus would unlikely develop to a full-term viable pregnancy.  My mother decided to take the risk, and a few months later she gave birth to a very little, but healthy baby girl.  And that is the LONG version of how I entered this world. 

While thankfully I was born healthy, I also suffered years and years of medical issues that could have potentially been prevented with better care.

While that was several years ago, I can tell you that despite the amazing advancements in medicine-similar errors like that happen today and I have witnessed them all too frequently. 

A language barrier or unfamiliarity with the US healthcare system, should not be a reason to result in improper medical care.

I see it all the time, where patients feel embarrassed or inadequate to ask health care professionals questions, because of a language or cultural barrier. Confusion and unfamiliarity with terms and processes lead to people being uninformed and also creates a lack of trust towards the health care system.  Once a lack of trust is present…It is so difficult to fix.

Right now, with so much necessary focus being targeted towrard the Coronavirus (or COVID19), access to adequate care has become even more challenging.

We can help…

Pathway Patient Advocates can walk with you and help you interpret medical bills, understand your various options for medical insurance coverage and provide you with available options of health care providers.  You will have the ability to make informed decisions for the care of yourself or your loved ones.