Mirsada Serdarevic (left), 24, and Shivani R. Khan, 28, both UF epidemiology PhD students, peruse an information table at UF HealthStreet during the Our Community, Our Health event Sept. 24, 2015. Khan picked up a flier for a 6-week dance program held by the UF Center for Arts in Medicine, which both girls said they will attend.

A UF program is stepping in to bridge a gap for Spanish-only speakers by translating their medical forms. 

HealthStreet, a UF community engagement program that helps reduce disparities in health research, introduced the project in September. To address a lack of Latinx and Hispanic people using the program’s health services and addressing what they want, program members translated all the forms pertaining to their health services into Spanish.

Ivan Grela, a 21-year-old UF microbiology and cell sciences senior, thought of the idea while doing community outreach and facing Spanish-only speaking residents in Gainesville.

All the forms have already been translated. Only consent and intake forms are awaiting final approval by the U.S. Internal Review Board after the final translations are perfected, which should be approved in the next few weeks, Grela said. 

“My main goal is having a form that people can easily understand,” Grela, who is Argentinian, said.

After receiving approval from the HealthStreet board in October, Grela began translating the forms and going to places in Hispanic and Latinx communities to find out more about their medical needs and offer HealthStreet’s services, like health screenings, mental health classes, research studies, clothing donations, free HIV testing and support groups.

Grela does outreach in the community at least twice a week for three to eight hours at a time. He travels as far as an hour away to restaurants, grocery stores, laundromats and homeless shelters. During these excursions, Grela hands out forms and tries to collect information about medical issues going on. 

“It’s very important for us to know what conditions are prevailing in the Hispanic community,” he said.

Lead community health worker Luisa Murphy, 24, became involved with the project in November, and schedules outreach events and coordinates interns and volunteers for them. She said the project emphasizes the program’s mission of having diverse research studies.

“All the research studies they’re doing here at UF is what’s going to change health policies,” Murphy said.

While Grela waits for the final approval on the forms, he still travels to the Hispanic and Latinx communities to hand out translated calendars and brochures about events and services. 

“What HealthStreet is, is that your voice is being heard,” Murphy said. “That your diversity, that your culture, your ethnicity and race is actually being taken into consideration with the research that we do.”

Contact Allessandra Inzinna at [email protected].