National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated each year from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and recognizes the rich history and heritage of Hispanic Americans and people with origins in Mexico, Spain, Central America, South America and the Spanish-speaking countries of the Caribbean.
It is impossible to calculate all the incredible ways that Hispanic and Latino culture contribute to our life together as Americans. I value the renewed understanding and appreciation that this annual celebration fosters each year.
The theme for this year’s recognition month is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.” As is often the case when attempting to translate words in a language, there is no single word in English that quite gets the entire meaning of esperanza, but the closest one would be hope. And hope is a vital concept for almost every aspect of our work in healthcare.
Patients hope for many things. Some hope for an optimistic diagnosis. Others are looking for relief from a debilitating pain or a chronic condition. Often they hope for a specific fundamental outcome such as to be able to walk again or have a working heart again.
Our healthcare team members also hope for a wide spectrum of things. Our doctors are constantly hoping to prevent illness through effective outreach and awareness efforts, as well as hoping their high-quality care leads to the best outcomes. Our clinicians hope that their research and experience results in world-class care. And all our team members hope that we provide a world-class patient experience to every person, every time.
In fact, during every interaction between our caregivers and our patients and their families, hope is a factor. We foster hope in our patients when we are fully attentive to them in thoughtful conversation, when we provide information in a clear manner that they understand, and when we respond to them in culturally responsive and compassionate ways. And that shared hope is at the heart of our Mission to extend God’s care through the ministry of physical, mental, and spiritual healing.
During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we immediately think of the work being done throughout Adventist HealthCare in addressing health equity and wellness. This work is rooted in esperanza, in hope. We are hopeful that our commitment to understanding the culture, traditions, values and faith of those we serve will have a positive impact on how care is provided and in the outcomes that are achieved. Our hopeful conviction is that community health is improved by being aware of community needs and by addressing health disparities.
“Esperanza de vida” is a commonly used phrase in Spanish that literally means “hope for life.” It is the term that many Spanish-speakers would translate as “life expectancy.” What a wonderful idea, and one that we may have lost in English, that life expectancy carries hope within it. What we want to give to our patients—in every way that we can—is hope for life. Promising, positive, thoughtful, expectant, hope for life.
As we celebrate the culture and contributions of Hispanics and Latinos to our nation, perhaps we can think about our work as being a channel for esperanza de vida—hope for life!