Latina Doctor Spreads the Word on Heart Disease in the Bronx

Dr. Julie Ramos (Photo courtesy of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx via Women's eNews)

Dr. Julie Ramos (Photo courtesy of Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx via Women’s eNews)

Dr. Julie Ramos, who serves as the director of outreach cardiology at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, tells Jan Paschal of Women’s eNews that the mostly Spanish-speaking women she treats remind her of her mother. With her language and cultural experiences, the doctor seeks to break down the barriers that often prevent Latinas from getting treatment for heart disease.

“My mom did not have a job other than as a cleaning lady,” Ramos said, recalling that her mother’s education and fluency in English were “very limited. I was the translator. I know the culture. We spoke only Spanish at home.”

On average, Latinas are likely to develop heart disease 10 years earlier than non-Hispanic women, according to the American Heart Association. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Latinas, but only 1-in-3 is aware of this.

“A lot of these ladies I serve are home health aides and cleaning ladies,” Ramos said. “As a physician, it’s a calling – to go above and beyond and help them navigate the barriers. We try to be very sensitive to who works with these patients.”

One major barrier to receiving treatment among her patients is language. According to Ramos, 95 percent of her patients cannot conduct a conversation in English and have trouble understanding the label on pill bottles.

The doctor also addresses other hurdles for the predominantly low-income women, including access to health care and transportation. Go to Women’s eNews to read more details on the barriers faced by the women.

In an earlier story in Women’s eNews, Jan Paschal profiled a new peer support group at Montefiore, supervised by Dr. Ramos, which caters to women of color and other underserved women who have heart disease. Volunteers Coral Robinson and Roxanne Watson lead the support group, which is sponsored by the D.C.-based nonprofit WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease. Read their experiences with the disease at Women’s eNews.

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