The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Speaker advises on health care communication

By Jonathan Martinez/reporter

People must be able to communicate with their health practitioner to stay healthy, a Tarrant County Public Health official said recently.

Glenda Redeemer, chronic disease prevention division manager, spoke to a NE Campus gathering about the importance of effective communication with physicians and other health care providers during an afternoon tea March 31.

The purpose of the speech, called How to Talk to Your Doctor and Get Them to Talk to You, was to highlight the forthcoming National Public Health Week April 7-13.

“If you are not comfortable with your situation with your health care provider, you won’t get the best bang for your buck, and it is far more likely there will be a breakdown in communication,” Redeemer said. “We are not able to get the quality of care if we cannot communicate effectively.”

Redeemer said some common barriers that can lead to a communication failure between patients and health care providers include language and cultural issues, access and distance challenges, the interest level of the health care providers, age and gender and even dress and grooming.

Redeemer shared a story about how appearance created a communication barrier at a hospital where she once worked. A neurologist at the hospital styled his hair in a ponytail, often wore jeans and rode a motorcycle. However, he was a terrific neurologist, Redeemer said.

“If my mother had a neurological deficit, I would want him for my mother,” she said.

But the barriers created by his appearance could cause a communication breakdown with some patients, she said.

Redeemer provided tips on language to use when communicating with health care providers. She suggested people memorize the phrase “living room terms” and use it when talking to health care providers who use words and phrases that are difficult to understand.

Redeemer said choosing a doctor requires research.

She suggested people visit a doctor’s office and talk to people in the waiting room about the physician they plan to see.

Redeemer said another communication tool is what she called an ICE telephone number, which stands for “in case of emergency.” This is the number written near a telephone or in a phone’s electronic address book. The number will let others know who to call when a person faces a medical emergency.

Joy Gaarz, a business and social science secretary on NE Campus, was surprised to know that ICE stood for “in case of emergency” number.

“It is the most important thing I learned from the speech,” she said.

She set up an ICE number moments after learning about it from Redeemer, she said.

Christi Turner, a NE Campus student, also said the ICE was the most useful piece of information she learned from the speech.

“This is the second health services speech I have been to, and health services have done a great job with both of the presentations,” she said.

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