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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Evelyn Schmidt, February 9, 1999. Interview K-0137. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Importance of bilingualism at the Lincoln Health Center

Illustrating the importance of the Lincoln Health Center to Durham's Hispanic populaton, Schmidt recalls how a victim of spousal abuse received help after describing her situation to a Spanish-speaking employee.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Evelyn Schmidt, February 9, 1999. Interview K-0137. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

This past year, we were the only site in Durham for the National Depression Screening Day that they had, and we were able to offer the service in both Spanish and English. And I think what we're not being able to serve as well are the social, mental-health needs of our Hispanic patients, because they're no different than anybody else.
ANN KAPLAN:
And so far that's been a difficult area to--?
EVELYN SCHMIDT:
And I think we need to recognize that. I went to a forum once in which students were giving their findings. They'd studied the Hispanic community, and then they had some people from the community get up. And one of the women got up and talked about the abuse that she had sustained, and I think we need to realize that regardless of whatever background you are, we do have spousal abuse. And as a matter of fact, one story: a couple years ago now, a women came in with a little boy. Her husband brought her in, and it was interesting. It was late in the day, and usually what we do is triage, because you can't see everybody who walks in. And then if it's urgent, yes, we'll see them, and if not we'll say, can you come back tomorrow morning and we'll see you, etc., etc. Well the translator who was at the desk came over to the head nurse in medicine and said, "Can't you see this lady? She had a cold and she's coughing." And so the nurse just said, "Oh, Peggy, for you we'll do it this late." Fortunately, the resident spoke Spanish, a Central American gal, and I guess that when she pulled the patient into her room, she must have greeted her in Spanish, because as soon as the door closed, the real problem was she was being beaten and abused by her husband. So we immediately called Battered--. The husband wanted to come in the room. We wouldn't let him in, and they took her to a shelter. The last I heard was they were able to have her and her little boy returned back to her parents' home.
ANN KAPLAN:
So she had gotten in a bad situation and she felt that this was a safe place to come.
EVELYN SCHMIDT:
This was the only place she could come. The only excuse she could have was illness.
ANN KAPLAN:
To get out of the house.
EVELYN SCHMIDT:
And that's not too different than many American women. So what I'm saying is, we've got to recognize regardless of where you come from, you're dealing with the same problems. We're dealing today trying to get young people to understand the need of prevention not only of HIV but the STDs. And it's interesting that the Hispanic community group has a new project to be able to talk with the Spanish populations about STDs and so forth. And that young lady is coming over here Fridays to work at our place.