The Florida based health system sought to address healthcare disparities by connecting with patients remotely

One of the largest not-for-profit health systems in the state, Florida’s Lee Health serves more than 1.5 million patients a year. With four acute care hospitals and two specialty hospitals, and more than 30 practice locations throughout Southwest Florida overall, it’s undeniable that Lee Health has a big impact on the state. Across the health system they have more than 1,800 beds and more than 14,000 employees. Lee Health’s recent campaign in collaboration with its county’s government, “Together, We Can,” is a testament to their continual effort to educate and support their community throughout the pandemic.

THE CHALLENGE
Lee Health needed to expand their reach to safely serve a diverse population

The global pandemic brought new pressure, and new challenges, to the health system. Suddenly, hospitals needed to pivot. Family and guests could no longer safely attend appointments. Staff safety became a growing concern. It was almost inevitable that employees would be exposed to the rapidly spreading COVID-19.

In addition to regularly screening and protecting staff , Lee Health needed a solution that would address their population’s unique needs. More than 11% of Florida’s population is classified as limited English proficient (LEP), with some counties as high as 35% (U.S. Department of Justice). In Lee County, the most commonly spoken language after English is Spanish with French Creole coming in second (U.S. Department of Justice). It was undeniable that Lee Health would need to link language services with their telehealth platform.

As the pandemic spread, on-site interpreters were removed from healthcare facilities across the nation in an effort to reduce exposure risk for care teams. How could facilities protect themselves, as well as their patients, while still providing sensitive and reassuring care? Lee Health had incorporated telehealth into their care plan since 2014, and they needed to expand the functionality of their digital offerings to meet the demands of the pandemic and their patient population. It was undeniable that Lee Health would need to link language services with their telehealth platform.