Spanish-Language Diabetes Programs Speak to the Need for Culturally Inclusive Care

Whether in her day job at Chester County Hospital as a registered dietitian, or her volunteer role with the West Chester clinic Community Volunteers in Medicine, Carla Graves, MS, prioritizes making patients feel comfortable linguistically, often discussing how to prevent or manage diabetes. “When it’s one-on-one and both people are speaking the same language, you’re able to absorb much more,” she explains. “This was the intent when I was brought on five years ago, that we could provide education directly to patients in their primary language instead of using an interpreter.”

The average U.S. adult has a lifetime risk of developing diabetes of about 40 percent, but for people from a Latinx background, that risk is higher — roughly 50 percent.

Using culturally relevant examples, Graves helps pregnant patients cope with a diagnosis of gestational diabetes, provides virtual diabetes education classes, and coaches patients to make lifestyle changes that can prevent or even reverse diabetes, all using Spanish to connect closely with patients and spread awareness of the condition in a way that resonates with them.

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