MPR: Advocate ensures Indian patients feel welcome at hospital

"Statistics show wide health disparities between American Indians and the rest of the population. For instance, American Indians are six times more likely to die from tuberculosis and twice as likely to die from diabetes than other Americans.

Doctors and others who work with American Indians say using specially designated advocates can improve care for Indian patients while they're in the hospital -- and improve health outcomes once they return home.

It's Aida Strom's job to make sure American Indian patients at Hennepin County Medical Center have everything they need.

She visits patients to ask how they're feeling and relays their concerns to social workers and medical staff. This could mean resolving complaints, arranging for spiritual leaders or clarifying medical information for families.

"My role is, for lack of a better term, like an interpreter's role," she says. "There are some real strong cultural identity issues that Indian people come with in the hospital.""

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American Indian health advocates bridge gaps in care (Minnesota Public Radio 2/9)

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