In 2021, Found in Translation was awarded a grant through the Tufts Medical Center COVID Relief and Recovery Initiative. As a grantee and an organization with strong connections to our community, we were recently invited to partner with Tufts Medical Center as they conduct their triennial Community Health Needs Assessment.
On February 3rd, 10 alumnae of Found in Translation gathered virtually to participate in a focus group led by a facilitator from Tufts. Representing five different class years, these alumnae were invited to speak about the most important health and social issues facing their communities. The goal of this Community Health Needs Assessment is to collect valuable insight that Tufts Medical Center can then use to prioritize their work in community health and addressing health equity needs over the next three years.
During the discussion, alumnae named testing and vaccine availability as strengths in their communities, as well as improvements in telehealth and food pantries. One alumna mentioned how proud she was of the language services available at her local hospital. She shared that while she was coming from her own doctor’s visit, she noticed a limited-English speaking family needing assistance. While in the past she would have been tempted to assist and interpret herself, she instead directed them to available interpreter services, saying “I was so glad I could leave them there, and know someone was actually going to help them.”
When asked about health concerns they see in their communities, many brought up issues that the pandemic has worsened, such as isolation for the elderly, mental health and resources for children, and access to government services. Barriers to addressing these challenges include lack of funding and/or health insurance (or coverage for services like mental health care), challenges in scheduling appointments due to staff shortages at hospitals, and language barriers in non-medical settings (ex. schools) for languages of lesser diffusion, for which translated materials are regularly not available.
Amongst those present, focusing on children was the priority for creating solutions – through scholarships, activities, opportunities to socialize in a community, and quality childcare. Overall, it was clear that the social determinants of health continue to play a huge role in the public health of our alumnae and their communities.
Thank you to our alumnae for participating in this conversation, and for all the thoughtful comments and perspectives shared this focus group and in the survey that was sent to our entire alumnae community. We look forward to the results of the Community Health Needs Assessment and to the strategies that Tufts Medical Center will implement as a result of their findings.