Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (JHBMC), located in southeast Baltimore City, MD, is a hospital and medical office center within the Johns Hopkins Health System. The Medical Center offers a wide range of services, including a trauma center and neonatal intensive care unit that are part of the statewide system, and a nationally renowned geriatrics center. Johns Hopkins Bayview is also home to the Johns Hopkins Burn Center.
Because of its growing immigrant population, diversity and inclusion is a top priority at JHBMC. According to Richard G. Bennett, M.D., President, “We have patients who come from all over the world from all sorts of backgrounds who need our care. Our goal in healthcare is to provide the safest care and best service to all."
The Children’s Medical Practice (CMP) is the Medical Center’s outpatient pediatric clinic providing comprehensive primary care for children through age 21. The clinic’s majority patient population is Latino children with immigrant parents who have limited English proficiency (approximately 75% of annual clinic visits)
(DeCamp et al, 2015)
In an effort to create better health services to meet the needs of Latino families, the Latino Family Advisory Board (LFAB), El Consejo de Familias Latinas, was established in 2011 by two pediatricians at CMP, Dr. Lisa DeCamp and Dr. Sarah Polk. The 19 active members of the LFAB are Latino immigrant families who have received care at CMP for an average of 8 years. (DeCamp et al, 2015) They come from countries throughout Central and South America. The LFAB meets monthly and all meetings are conducted in Spanish. Childcare, dinner, and a small stipend are provided to LFAB members.
In August 2013, with a grant from the Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation, JHBMC opened Centro SOL, the Johns Hopkins Center for Promoting Health/Salud and Opportunity for Latinos. The primary goal of the center is learning about the health needs of the Latino community – and developing programs and services to meet them. With the opening of Centro SOL, the LFAB had a sustainable source of funding and could work with the new center to develop and expand programming focused on improving the health of the local Latino community and the quality and safety of care provided to Spanish-speaking Latino families at Johns Hopkins.
During its years in existence, the Consejo has recommended and worked on a number of projects to improve Clinic services for Latino children and their families. In 2017 – 2018 alone, the Consejo was involved in the following initiatives:
- Desirability and feasibility of group well child care.
- Improved support for continuous Medicaid enrollment.
- Development of grant proposals to support remote mental health services and community-based overweight management.
- Child-centered vaccine administration via development and adaptation of an educational video in Spanish about how to manage childhood anxiety surrounding vaccine administration.
- Feedback on Spanish language letter informing patients and families about a Long Term Reversible Contraceptive program.
The LFAB also participated in establishing a Youth Advisory Board component and in creating a space for teenage children of the clinic to provide direct input and feedback.
In a recent evaluation, Consejo members reported significant satisfaction with their involvement. Two members commented:
“This year has […] allowed us to express ourselves with confidence and contribute changes to improve our work as a group.”
“Our group is very interesting because it always gives really wonderful suggestions about our children and also about women’s health, which is what is most important.”
Latino Family Advisory Board, Yearly Report, 2016-2017
Dr. Lisa DeCamp, who directs the Consejo, describes its benefits: “As a result of the Consejo, we have been able to improve the care that we provide to immigrant Latino families. Consejo members have helped us to prioritize changes, recognize the strengths and limitation of our programs, and gain a better understanding of the many factors that contribute to families’ ability to promote the health of their children. Their tireless commitment to the work of the Consejo inspires us to continue working to improve our services and advocate for policies and system changes that reflect the needs of diverse populations.”
Read the LFAB's 2017-18 Yearly Report
To other clinics planning to create Patient/Family Advisory Councils for Latino or other immigrant populations, Dr. DeCamp offers the following advice:
- Take time for partnership development and building trust. Consejo members have different opinions and we have worked hard to create a safe space for their views.
- Supporting the practical needs of members to achieve sustained participation. For example, we know we must provide childcare to be successful and so that is part of the budget and staffing.
DeCamp et al (2015). A voice and a vote: The advisory board experiences of Spanish-speaking Latina mothers. Hispanic Health Care International, 13(4).