For New Mexico's deaf and hard of hearing community, a new deaf access program recently implemented with the medical services at the Young Children's Health Center will help them break through the communication barriers when it comes to health care.

Dr. Julia Hecht, who is a pediatrician at the YCHC, has opened up the lines of communication by incorporating her sign language skills with her practice to provide quality patient care for New Mexico's deaf and hard of hearing community.

"We provide full-service pediatric care that is in-step with the way deaf and hard of hearing people live," said Hecht.

The clinic is equipped with teletype machines or TTY's, to enable deaf and hard of hearing patients and parents schedule appointments and communicate with medical personnel. The staff and social workers at the clinic are also taking sign language classes in an effort to communicate effectively with their patients.

"As a pediatrician who signs, I can interact with deaf children and get them involved in their own health care," said Hecht. "Deaf parents can discuss concerns about their children -- these are doctor-patient interactions that most hearing people take for granted."

YCHC is a component of UNM Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics. The clinic is located at 306 A San Pablo S.E., and can be reached at 272-9242 (voice) or 272-5921 (TTY). "
Contact: HSC Public Affairs, 272-3322