Boston-Based Cancer Surgeon Aims To Provide Culturally Sensitive Care
The Boston Globe on Monday profiled Jane Mendez, a breast cancer surgeon at Boston Medical Center, who twice a week cares for primarily uninsured minority women at the Belken Breast Health Center. About 60% of the patients Mendez cares for are Hispanic, and many others are from countries such as Cape Verde, Haiti or Vietnam.
Mendez grew up in a suburb of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and earned her medical degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Mendez, who speaks Spanish and French, said, "In my training, it was frustrating for me when the doctor wouldn't speak the language, for example Spanish, and all of the sudden they didn't take the time to really figure out what was wrong with the patients. ... It really bothered me that they would label the patients as ignorant and they wouldn't really attend to what they needed."
In treating her patients, Mendez aims to be culturally sensitive and recognize that some aspects of breast cancer are taboo in various cultures. She said, "If [patients are] not going to comply with what I recommend because of cultural issues, cultural biases or because we can't communicate, that's half the battle" (Jones, Boston Globe, 1/7).