Meds & LEP Webinar

December 11, 2009
Webinar 3
Two tablets...¿pero cuándo? Addressing language barriers in the pharmacy

Medication errors are a serious safety risk for limited English speakers and those who don't read well. Highlighted as a costly and life-threatening problem by the Institute of Medicine, and detailed in many national journals, communication barriers compromise patients' ability to understand and adhere to medication regimes. Join us for this free webinar as we learn about initiatives in three states to improve communication in pharmacies, from conversations with staff to medication labels and product information.

This is the third webinar in the DiversityRx Your Voice Webinar Series, funded by The California Endowment. The project also features Communities of Practice, Peer Learning Networks, and an online professional education and support network.


Nisha Agarwal, of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), will review the legal and legislative campaign in New York State to require interpretation and translated information in pharmacy interactions.

Doreena Wong, of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), will talk about California legislation that mandates a standardized, patient-centered prescription drug label that provides medical information in a uniform, legible, and culturally appropriate manner.

Joana Ramos, of the Washington Coalition for Prescribing Integrity, will discuss collaboration between language access advocates and pharmacy schools and professionals to raise awareness about medication and communication barriers.

Presenter Bios: 

Nisha Agarwal is the Director of the Health Justice Program.  She came to NYLPI in September 2006 on a Skadden Public Interest Fellowship, and her work since that time has focused on bringing a racial justice & immigrant rights perspective to health care advocacy.  Nisha is currently representing a Latino community based organization in a legal and legislative campaign to make pharmacies more accessible to limited English proficient (LEP) individuals.  She is also representing a coalition of 40 community and faith-based organizations in the Bronx in a campaign to eliminate segregation on the basis of race and insurance in New York City hospitals.

Nisha is active in the South Asian Bar Association of New York, where she serves as the Vice President for Public Interest, and she is the co-founder of the Harvard Law School Summer Theory Institute for public interest law students.  Nisha received her BA, summa cum laude, from Harvard College and received a British Marshall Scholarship for study at the University of Oxford.  She received her JD from Harvard Law School in 2006.

Doreena Wong is a senior attorney at the National Health Law Program ("NHeLP"), which is a national public interest law firm working to increase and improve access to quality health care on behalf of limited income people by providing legal analysis and representation, information, education, and policy advocacy.  She provides support to the Health Consumer Alliance, a partnership of consumer assistance programs operated by community-based legal services organizations whose purpose is to help low-income people obtain essential health care.  She places a special focus on increasing the provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services for immigrants and limited-English proficient populations.  She has served on various advisory bodies and task forces, including the Office of Minority Health=s National Advisory Committee for the Development of Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care, California=s Task Force on Culturally and Linguistically Competent Physicians and Dentists, the Advisory Committee of the California Health Care Safety Net Institute’s Language Access Advisory Committee, and the Department of Health Services’ Task Force on Medi-Cal Language Access Services,  She is currently one of the co-chairs of the Policy and Research Committee and on the Board of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care, and serves on, the Advisory Group of the National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations, and one of the co-chairs of the Communications Committee of the National Coalition on Health Care Interpreter Certification.

Before coming to NHeLP, she worked in the area of civil rights for a number of public interest organizations including the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, CA, the ACLU of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, the National Women's Law Center in Washington, D.C., and a Los Angeles civil rights firm specializing in enforcement of consent decrees in race discrimination cases.  She graduated from New York University School of Law in 1987 as a second career after having worked as a health care professional for nine years.

Joana Ramos, MSW is the Director of the Washington Coalition for Prescribing Integrity, a small coalition of health, consumer, and civic groups working on the policy level to ensure that all residents of WA State have access to appropriate and affordable prescription drugs. She is also a member of the  Interim Steering Committee  for the Washington State Coalition for Language Access, drawing on her  background as an independent consultant on domestic and international health equity issues, and experience as a medical interpreter. In addition, she serves on the  Management Group of Healthy Skepticism, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting rational use of medicines.

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