Spreading wings

08/13/2019
CHA shows solidarity with immigrants and promotes butterfly symbol

By Ingrid Gámez, CMI-Spanish, Supervisor, Multicultural Affairs and Patient Services

Proposed policy changes and restrictions on immigrants are dominating headlines, sparking fear and spurring national debate. CHA welcomes all patients regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status. We fiercely live our motto, "We Care for All," while also recognizing the challenges facing immigrant populations. Our staff and providers model inclusive behavior each day through the culturally competent care they provide and with meaningful actions that create a welcoming environment.

Starting in 2017, staff in CHA's Department of Multicultural Affairs and Patient Services began distributing small butterfly pins to employees. Immigrant rights advocates view butterflies as the embodiment of the dignity, courage and resilience of migrants and the right that all living beings have to move freely like a butterfly.

To date, more than 900 pins have been distributed across CHA's service areas in Cambridge, Somerville, Everett, Revere and Malden. Staff proudly display these pins and show our patients, visitors, and community partners that CHA is an inclusive place for everyone. "We must stand together and treat everyone with dignity and provide all with the quality health care they deserve," said Christian Lanphere, CHA Safety Officer and Emergency Management Director.

The butterfly is proof that when something is falling apart it can emerge and morph into something beautiful. It's also fragile and colorful, like my older sister Evelyn. Evelyn was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, kabuki syndrome, severe scoliosis and seizure disorder. She had her first seizure when she was just six months old. Our mother traveled back and forth to the United States with Evelyn in order to find her proper treatment for more than 10 years.

Finally, we moved to the United States, from Honduras, in 2002 when I was 16 and Evelyn was 18. My father worked hard to support my mother, sister and two brothers ensuring that we got a great education. Arriving in a new country was a struggle as we all learned a new language and culture together. Thankfully, Evelyn was able to have critical spine surgery, medication and therapy.

As an immigrant, my parents taught me that the most important thing in life is family. When my older sister needed better health care, we left everything we knew behind and came to the United States. Evelyn was our butterfly and she spurred me and my family to come here to lead a better life.

Today, I am a medical interpreter at CHA and I chose this career path in order to give others a voice in health care, as I did for my sister and mother during medical appointments. Evelyn inspires me each day and the butterfly symbolizes the story of my family and so many others. Symbols provide hope. The butterfly can transform hearts and help people spread their wings.

As part of CHA's outreach, we launched an immigrant resource page on the CHA website, which includes a list of local and national resources to help our patients and their families with questions about immigrant and refugee health issues. If you, a family member, or friend are exploring options in care, let us introduce you to the wonderful team of providers at CHA by calling 617-665-1305 or visit www.challiance.org/cha/find-a-doctor.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.