Why we help: Increasing access to health care, language services

Mariela Solano

My area of focus is increasing access to health care and language services for low-income uninsured people in Western North Carolina.

I started out as a contract interpreter for the Western Carolina Medical Society Interpreter Network, and now I’m the director of health access and equity programs.

Project Access has an expansive network of specialty care and hospital partners that provide donated care — including preventive screenings, hospital care, surgery, cancer care, specialty outpatient care, mental health care, diagnostic care (such as labs or imaging), medications, durable medical equipment and language services through the WCMS Interpreter Network.

I’m inspired to do this work by my own experience. I do what I do to help people get the access to services that I didn’t have as an immigrant child with an undocumented family.

There are so many answers to what keeps me motivated! I guess the main thing is the lifesaving health care that we are able to provide to low-income uninsured people in our community every day.

There are a lot of hurdles in place around equity. It starts with us making sure that we are being equitable in our organization, and then goes out into the communities that we serve: trying to work against the barriers around lack of access to language services, health services and socioeconomic services that we are constantly running into.

The need continues to increase, especially amid a pandemic as more and more people fall into the insurance gap.

— Mariela Solano
Director of Health Access and Equity Programs
Western Carolina Medical Society and Project Access


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