Health Southern Indiana

A new Norton Healthcare clinic in southern Jefferson County is aimed at providing preventive care for Spanish-speaking residents. 

La Clínica Preston, a bilingual primary care practice for patients 12 and older, opened this month at 7923 Preston Highway.

It’s the first clinic of its kind in the area, and part of a long term plan Norton has to help ensure better health equity in the city, a spokesperson said. 

It’s also in the same complex as a Norton Immediate Care Center and a pediatric practice with some bilingual staff. 

Luduvina Portilla, nurse practitioner at La Clínica, said the center is a much-needed health resource for the local Latinx community. 

“What we have seen is that our community doesn’t really have much preventive care,” Portillo said. “What we’re hoping instead is instead of going to the emergency room when they’re sick, we can catch those diseases early on.”

Portillo said it can be very daunting for a Spanish-speaking person to try to navigate the health care system when there isn’t someone who speaks their language.

“It’s difficult to express your needs,” she said. “And the whole process from scheduling an appointment to following up if you have a question later on, who do you turn to?”

“We hope our patients identify with us because we understand the barriers — their language, their culture, their traditions.”

Carolina Tafur, practice supervisor and a first-generation resident whose family emigrated from Columbia, said she’s seen the impact when patients are unable to effectively communicate with health care providers. 

“To me, this is a project that is more than a job,” she said. “To me, it’s something I’m very passionate about just because not only have I seen it within my own community but I’ve seen it within my own family. 

“[It’s] not that people get neglected, but that people don’t get understood for their medical needs and that … leads to further complications.”

On its opening day Nov. 22, staff at La Clínica treated 27 patients. Portillo said everything went smoothly. 

“There was a lot of excitement in all this stuff because we’re making history, at least in our community here,” she said. 

La Clínica Preston practitioners see patients by appointment. Private and government insurance is accepted and cash payment plans can be arranged.

Staff say patients will be treated and safe regardless of immigration status. 

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 502-629-1234.

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.