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Reaching an underserved community

Adventist Health Portland News

The greater Portland metro area is home to more than 50,000 immigrants and their families from the former Soviet Union. This growing community and others around Oregon have made Russian the third-most spoken language in the state.

Recognizing a huge need for Russian-language support in the health care setting, Adventist Health Portland began reaching out directly to the area’s Slavic community. This outreach has included health-related articles published in Slavic media, Adventist Health providers interviewed on Slavic Family Radio, and direct advertising of the Adventist Health clinics staffed with Russian-speaking providers.

We have also added Russian navigators to our emergency room staff. These navigators help our Russian-speaking patients communicate with providers. Equally important, they provide an important cultural bridge between providers and patients whose experiences in the Soviet Union have left them resistant to the medical establishment.

A lifesaving connection

Adventist Health Portland’s commitment to the area’s Russian-speaking population recently saved a man’s life. The 77-year-old Russian-speaking man arrived by ambulance and desperately needed a blood transfusion, which he refused.

Because a Russian navigator, Irina Klimenko, was on duty, Dr. Sara Larry was able to explain through Irina how a blood transfusion would save this man’s life. Irina called the man’s wife and explained to her too. When the man and his wife were done talking, his resistance was gone. The patient accepted this life-saving treatment and was promptly transferred to Adventist Health Portland’s partner, OHSU, for advanced care.

Providing whole-person care means more than healing bodies. The Adventist Health Portland mission encompasses living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope throughout Portland’s diverse communities. Finding ways to offer care that uniquely meets the needs of our Russian-speaking patients is just another example of our commitment to that mission.