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UAlbany Center Launches Project to Improve Language Assistance at Family Planning Clinics

Center for Women in Government and Civil Society awarded $600,000 from U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services to help patients with limited English proficiency

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

Dina Refki

Dina Refki of UAlbany's CWGCS will use the grant from the Department of Health and Human Services to improve delivery of family planning services to vulnerable populations. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 16, 2009) -- As family planning programs across the U.S. struggle to meet the needs of a growing number of patients with limited English proficiency, the University at Albany's Center for Women in Government and Civil Society (CWGCS) has received $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve language assistance at family planning clinics.

According to principal investigator Dina Refki, the language assistance that is currently provided is often given on an ad hoc basis by a bilingual staff member who is juggling other responsibilities. Federal laws guarantee patients the right to free language assistance, including the services of an interpreter to help communicate with their provider.

"This project is designed to systematically study how organizational improvement in language assistance services can contribute to the elimination of disparities in family planning services,” said Refki, interim director of CWGCS. "The strategies, tools and lessons we will learn will help to improve the planning and delivery of family planning services for these vulnerable populations."

Many of the immigrant patients who rely on the services of family planning clinics are faced with relatively high rates of sexually transmitted infections and preventable reproductive health problems, according to Refki, who has conducted extensive research on issues affecting immigrant women.

"This exciting new research led by Dina Refki shines a light on solutions to the growing problem of how to provide quality family planning services to immigrant women," said Dean Jeffrey Straussman of the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, which serves as the Center’s home. "This research focus has wide-ranging implications for improved health services and it demonstrates CWGCS is on the forefront of emerging issues."

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