This week the topic is “diverse patient” populations. I would like to discuss 2 very different populations in Wayne, NJ. The two groups are spanish speaking patients and those patients with any mental illness.
While Wayne, NJ is 86% White and only 12.4% Hispanic I have talked about Paterson in my previous blogs and the same cannot be said about Paterson. Paterson is 29% white and 60.9% Hispanic. This means that more than 60% of potential patients in Paterson will need a doctor that is able to speak spanish in order for them to get the best treatment they can. Language is something that we all take for advantage, and is something that can greatly have an impact on a patient’s access to medicine.
There is no doubt that any doctor that speaks Spanish and English has an advantage over a doctor who just speaks English. In Wayne if a doctor were to only speak English, this would allow the doctor to communicate with most of the patients. In Paterson however, a doctor that only speaks English would have a very difficult time treating patients as they would not be able to communicate with over half of the population. Known as the Silk City, out of the 146,199 people that live in Paterson, 61 percent of them speak a language other than English. At least 57 percent of the people living in Paterson identify as Hispanic or Latino. But the city is home to many immigrant communities. Many Turkish, Syrian and other Middle-Eastern immigrants call South Paterson home, for example. This goes to show that if a doctor wanted to practice medicine in Paterson, they would need to speak at least some Spanish. Luckily, there are many doctors in the area that do speak Spanish. (See map below) Having many Spanish speaking doctors in the area allows the local Spanish community to get the same access to care as someone that speaks English.
Map of Spanish Speaking Doctors in Wayne
The second group of “diverse patients” I would like to talk about in Wayne is those patients with a mental illness. Unfortunately in Wayne there is no hospital with a psychiatric unit. However, Paterson’s St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson does have a psychiatric unit. This allows those patients with a psychiatric illness to get the treatment they need. The Psychiatric Emergency Services is in charge of handling any patient that may come into the hospital with a mental illness, “The mission of the PES/Screening Center is to assist any individual in resolving any crisis/conflict associated with psychiatric illness. Staff promptly evaluate clients in order to determine type of treatment required and arrange for the provision of such treatment in least restrictive setting as close to home as possible. The expectation is that the provision of services and relevant supports will result in resolution of the crisis.” This ensures that any patient that needs psychiatric treatment will be taken care of at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center.
COVID Effects Diverse Patient Populations
This week, Wayne went up to 1,334 (from 1,001) and Paterson is up to 5,971 (from 5,115). There is no doubt that Paterson is getting hit hard by this terrible virus. As I mentioned earlier, Paterson is 60.9% Hispanic, which means they are also getting hit hard by COVID-19. I am not going to get into whether one group of people is more susceptible to this virus than another. Rather I will tell you what NJ officials are doing to help the hispanic population in Paterson. One thing that the NJ Department of Health is doing is spreading flyers around in Spanish and English that tells people what they need to know. This ensures that everyone is on the same page so that we can all get through this together.
Being in a hospital during this pandemic has to be extremely stressful and scary and I cannot even imagine how the patients in the Psychiatric Unit at St. Joes in Paterson are feeling. One of the most important things to remember about a psych unit is that the patients that are in there are in there for a reason, “It can be difficult to isolate patients who have behavioral dysregulation from symptoms of active mania and psychosis.” It must be extremely difficult for nurses to try and quarantine a mentally ill patient. The only way to get through this is to socially distance and that is very difficult to do in a Psych unit. However, most hospitals in the area have closed their doors to visitors. While this may be good to stop the spread of COVID-19 it may not be the best thing for those patients in the Psychiatric unit, “The stressor of a pandemic may worsen psychiatric symptoms for individuals—for example, those with psychosomatic delusions may experience more intense paranoia.” Hopefully things will return to “normal” so that these patients can get the care they truly need.