A University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville pediatrician was honored by the Jacksonville Jaguars for her efforts to eliminate health disparities in the Hispanic community.
Patricia A. Solo-Josephson, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics, was presented with the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award at the Jaguars’ Sept. 30 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. One person in each of the 32 NFL cities was chosen for the award.
Solo-Josephson and Laura N. Beverly, M.D., a UF assistant professor of pediatrics, received a grant in 2009 from the American Academy of Pediatrics to help study some of the issues facing Hispanic immigrants, especially concerning medical care. The physicians both practice at the Duval County Health Department’s Beaches Family Health Center, where nearly 40 percent of their patients are Hispanic.
With the support of the grant, and in partnership with the health department, Mayor’s Hispanic American Advisory Board and the Partnership for Child Health, Drs. Solo-Josephson and Beverly helped launch the Hispanic Health Initiative.
Through focus groups, they learned Hispanic patients often feel they are treated poorly because they don’t speak English and thus put off medical appointments because they do not feel comfortable. As a result of this feedback, there’s now a bilingual AmeriCorps member on staff at the Beaches Clinic to improve communication between patients and clinic personnel.
Solo-Josephson and Beverly then helped to develop a Jacksonville Hispanic Resource Guide, published in both English and Spanish and distributed throughout northeast Florida, which helps direct residents to services including medical care.
Their efforts continued after the guide was published last fall, and Solo-Josephson and Beverly were among the hosts of a cultural competency forum in April, designed to help physicians understand how cultural differences may affect their patients’ behavior and lifestyle.
Other educational sessions have followed, including pediatric resident training using the Cultural Competency Toolkit designed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Drs. Solo-Josephson and Beverly and the Hispanic Health Initiative are now also linking their work with Wolfson Children’s Hospital through Wolfson’s recently launched Players Center.
"The awareness is being heightened among providers of the need to provide high-quality translation services and address the needs of this minority group," Solo-Josephson said. "It can be just a matter of letting providers know about the unique challenges faced by these children and families, and where physicians can find resources to meet their needs."
Solo-Josephson, who grew up in Miami speaking Spanish, also serves on the Mayor’s Hispanic Advisory Board and the Duval County Health Department’s Hispanic Advisory Council. She was recognized with the health department’s community service award and the Pediatrician of the Year award from the Northeast Florida Pediatric Society in 2010.
The winner of the NFL award in each city gets to choose the recipient of a $3,000 donation, sponsored by Bud Light, and Solo-Josephson selected Partnership for Child Health. The Partnership board has representation from executives from all essential public, private and academic-sector pediatric organizations s in town, and a position on the board was recently established for a pediatrician to represent the Hispanic community, which Solo-Josephson currently holds.
In her role on the board, she’s helped make top pediatric health officials aware of how their staffs can take simple steps to make Hispanic patients feel more comfortable and take control of their own health.
Jeffrey L. Goldhagen, M.D., UF’s chief of community pediatrics in Jacksonville and medical director of the Partnership for Child Health, has been instrumental in facilitating this work by supporting the efforts of these two pediatricians.
"It’s an honor for Patty, but it’s really an important recognition of the work of many, many committed individuals and organizations—work that has been catalyzed and led by Patty and Laura," Goldhagen said. "We are extremely proud of what they have accomplished for children and families in our community, and for their recognition by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They have been invited by the Academy later this month to share their work and help other communities replicate their successes."