Featuring: Diego Mauricio Avella Patino, MD, Daniel Meza, MD
Receiving a diagnosis of asthma, lung cancer or respiratory failure can be scary and challenging. Receiving care from a medical team that doesn’t speak your preferred language can make the experience more difficult. The Northwestern Medicine Canning Thoracic Institute Hispanic Program was recently launched to offer personalized care for lung and thoracic patients in their native language, making life-saving care more accessible for the Hispanic community and people who prefer to speak Spanish by removing cultural and linguistic barriers.
“Chicago and its surrounding areas are composed of a diverse population that continues to grow, but there isn’t a structured clinical program providing cutting-edge care for patients with lung or thoracic diseases in Spanish. People from different cultures may have specific needs for communicating with their physicians, and we’re honored to bring that personalized care to patients in their native language,” said Diego Mauricio Avella Patino, MD, a thoracic surgeon who grew up in Colombia and now leads the Northwestern Medicine Canning Thoracic Institute (CTI) Hispanic Program. “Speaking the same language provides a human touch, and we believe the CTI Hispanic Program will encourage patients to seek health care sooner, complete their recommended treatments, and experience better outcomes.”
Our goal is to make patients feel comfortable talking with their medical team about everything from diagnosis to treatment, what they can expect shortly after surgery, and in the long-term. We want to provide this personalized care for as many patients as possible in the Chicagoland area.
In January, 45-year-old Nanci Alao of Chicago, Ill., was diagnosed with stage 1 lung cancer and underwent surgery with Dr. Avella to have the cancer removed. The surgery was successful, and Alao went home the next day cancer-free. She’s now back at work and no longer experiences pain and shortness of breath. Alao says, even though she understands English, Spanish is her primary language, and being able to communicate in Spanish with her medical team made the process seamless.
“My care was excellent primarily because it was in Spanish,” said Alao. “Even though there are wonderful interpreters available at Northwestern Medicine, it’s different from being able to speak with a doctor in your same language. Dr. Avella explained the type of cancer I had and why follow up appointments are needed. If anything concerning appears down the road, I trust we’ll be able to detect it early. Having everything in Spanish was the best, and I felt like I was at home.”
Every team member with the CTI Hispanic Program speaks Spanish, and they have a dedicated phone line for patients who prefer to communicate in Spanish. The team includes a thoracic surgeon, pulmonologist, patient procedure schedulers, front desk staff, social workers, clinic nurses and operating room nurses.
“As the son of Mexican immigrants growing up on the southside of Chicago, I can personally relate to having the hardship of communicating with your doctor to truly comprehend issues with your health,” said Daniel Meza, MD, pulmonologist with the CTI Hispanic Program. “Our goal is to make patients feel comfortable talking with their medical team about everything from diagnosis to treatment, what they can expect shortly after surgery, and in the long-term. We want to provide this personalized care for as many patients as possible in the Chicagoland area.”
Thoracic services at the CTI Hispanic Program include surgical treatment for lung cancer, esophageal cancer, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), lung transplantation and more. Pulmonary services include treatment for asthma, emphysema, long-term pulmonary disease, other respiratory illnesses and more. To view the full list of services and treatments, click here.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 847.738.4863.
Diego Mauricio Avella Patino, MD, is a thoracic surgeon and leader of the Northwestern Medicine Canning Thoracic Institute Hispanic Program.
Daniel Meza, MD, assistant professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care in the department of Medicine.
Northwestern Medicine welcomes the opportunity to partner with you in caring for your patients.