Rooted in the Past, Blind to the Present: Health Care Administrators’ Perceived Role and Response to Spanish-Speaking Immigrants in a New-Settlement Community
Cribbs, Sarah E.
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Cribbs, Sarah E.
This study examines how health care administrators perceive Spanish-speaking immigrant growth in a city with little to no history of attracting immigrants but recently experiencing tremendous growth. Different communities are finding a need to adjust various institutions, organizations, and policies to meet the needs of newer groups, which often arrive in communities ill-equipped to deal with the structural and social changes necessary to serve them. This study investigates the ways one health care system's administrators frame the institution's role and response as the surrounding city is transformed into a new destination city. Their responses complicate existing understandings of how people discuss newly settled immigrant groups in an era of racial colorblindness, as this colorblindness often cloaks underlying racial prejudice. Administrators who expressed egalitarian understandings professionally often shifted to rigid racial boundaries in their private lives. Moving the color line based on the arena of conversation challenges existing theories, which mark racial hierarchies as static lines demarcating divisions between two or three groups. Finally, administrators link the needs of Spanish-speaking patients to the health system's Mission Department, reinforcing cultural representations of this particular group as indigent and outside the mainstream services offered by the health care system.