A photo of Crystal Ring at her home standing outside smiling at the camera.

Heart At Work: Crystal Ring – helping non-English speaking patients

Sophia*, who speaks Spanish, was admitted to the hospital multiple times for cellulitis and extremely high blood pressure. Although she was surrounded by medical professionals, she couldn’t easily convey what she was feeling or understand the care needed until Crystal Ring reached out. 

Crystal is an Aetna American Health Holding (AHH) case management nurse who advocates for patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP). Using an interpreter from Aetna’s language services program, she helps AHH members like Sophia overcome linguistic, cultural and health literacy barriers. 

“When I first spoke to Sophia she was frustrated, scared and overwhelmed. She felt pushed aside and didn’t feel she was getting better. Because of this, Sophia wasn’t attending her follow-up appointments and refused to take her high blood pressure medicine,” explains Crystal. “I calmed Sophia down and shared with her the medical rationale behind the physician’s instructions so she could understand the potential danger of stopping her treatment.” 

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 21 percent of the population speaks a language other than English. As these numbers rise, nurses like Crystal play a critical role meeting challenges related to care and education for this diverse population. 

Along with patients who have high blood pressure, Crystal works with patients with diabetes, heart disease, kidney failure and wounds. Her case load varies from 30 to 45 patients. 

“I just love to help people. At the end of the day, I want to know that I did everything I could for my patients,” says Crystal, adding that some of her patients cried when their case was closed. 

Thanks to Crystal’s dedication and thoughtful approach, Sophia is doing well and her blood pressure is no longer in the danger zone. Crystal even recommended changing Sophia’s medication, which improved her cellulitis and allowed her to become a candidate for vascular surgery. In fact, Sophia’s physician sent Crystal a note thanking her for her knowledge and leadership: “We are very appreciative of the amazing work you are doing for our patients.”

So are we! Thank you, Crystal, for bridging the communications gap and bonding with your patients. Your care makes all the difference. 

*Name changed for privacy purposes

Heart At Work recognizes CVS Health heroes across the country who bring their hearts to work, helping people on their path to better health. Read their stories, watch their videos and celebrate our CVS Health Heart At Work heroes along with us!

10.21.20