Elda Sierra: Seeking to Make a Difference
Elda Sierra of Fayetteville, NC has used her diagnosis with MS to reach out to the large Hispanic community of Fayetteville. Elda grew up in the United States and speaks near perfect English. Her parents and family are Puerto Rican. Elda was diagnosed with MS in 2005. As she made lifestyle changes and took steps to manage her MS, she considered what it would be like to go through this process without command of the English language and very little money. The price of medications, for example, was a shock.
“I am covered by my husband’s plan. But I couldn't believe how expensive my medications were,” she says.
Understanding convoluted insurance forms and evaluating available coverage options is hard enough for native speakers. The process is nearly impossible for Hispanic families who do not have the background or language skills to make required changes. Without basic explanations of where information can be found and continued support in making transitions, many Hispanics may feel too isolated to continue.
“If you tell them [Hispanics] that they have a complicated disease and then give them insurance forms they have to read and tell them about medicine they’ve never heard, they will simply not seek or continue treatment,” says Elda.
Technology poses another obstacle, specificaly, the migration of information and services to the internet. “Most Hispanic families do not have the [internet] in their homes and they do not know that they can go to the library to access the internet,” Elda says.
But Elda has decided she can help narrow the gap between Hispanics with MS and the information and treatment they need. She has volunteered as a translator with the Society for some time.
“It is my dream to help the Hispanic community deal with challenges similar to what I face,” she says. Elda intends to make the challenges faced by many Hispanic immigrants not seem so insurmountable.