100% bilingual practice supports Spanish-speaking patients

Norton Community Medical Associates – La Clínica Preston is Louisville’s first 100% bilingual practice, with a care team prepared to support patients in both Spanish and English.

Long before becoming the practice manager at a bilingual medical office, Carolina Tafur knew the importance of patients being able to communicate with their medical provider.

“As a first-generation American, I grew up seeing the language barrier in every aspect of my life. My sister and I were the translators for my parents at their medical appointments,” said Carolina, who manages Norton Community Medical Associates – La Clínica Preston.

At this innovative clinic on Preston Highway in Louisville, Spanish-speaking patients don’t need a translator or an English-speaking family member to communicate their medical concerns with providers or staff. La Clínica Preston became Louisville’s first 100% bilingual practice when Norton Healthcare opened it in November 2021.

The office’s 10 employees hail from nine different nations, and all speak Spanish and English — everyone from receptionist to medical assistant to nurse to doctor.

“We can’t properly serve our patients if they’re not comfortable and confident in sharing their medical history, symptoms and concerns,” Carolina said “Breaking down the language barrier is a critical first step in elevating the standard of care.” 

Visit NortonHealthcare.com for additional information or to schedule an appointment at Norton Community Medical Associates – La ClínicaPreston. You also can schedule by calling (502) 861-4655.

The innovative model of bilingual primary care at La Clínica Preston was designed to meet a growing need in the Louisville community, and the clinic saw more than 10,000 visits completed in 2022. U.S. Census Bureau data shows that Jefferson County’s Hispanic population has grown by about 81% since 2010. While not all in the Latinx community need services provided in Spanish, La Clínica Preston is a lifeline for those who do.

High appointment volumes and remarkable patient feedback paint a clear picture that La ClínicaPreston is working, according to Carolina, who credits the team around her.

“Everyone here is equally passionate. We’ve all seen how the language barrier can impact the community and our own families,” Carolina said.

Primary care services can function as a first impression for health care. If interactions don’t go well in these spaces, patients are often less inclined to continue seeking care. This could mean undetected symptoms, untreated conditions and a negative overall impact on quality of life. On the other hand, getting care right from the start can lead to a ripple effect of greater health outcomes both for the individual and for others who hear about their good experience.

“Our patients feel trust. They feel loved, and we understand their difficulties, so we try to go above and beyond medical care and we treat them like family,” La Clínica medical assistant Heili Leiva said.

Beyond breaking down the language barrier, the team at La ClínicaPreston recognizes that there can be additional social determinants of health — issues such as food insecurity, employment, housing or transportation — impacting patients. To address these needs, the team frequently collaborates with the Institute for Health Equity, a Part of Norton Healthcare, and local nonprofit groups to connect patients and families with resources to help.

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