Maryland Conference Addresses Issue of Providing Culturally Competent Health Care Services
Participants at Adventist HealthCare's Center on Health Disparities fall conference in Maryland discussed the issue of culture-based health care services on Tuesday, the Montgomery County Gazette reports.
"Even with the help of good translators, cultural differences can stymie the delivery of care," the Gazette reports. The conference's keynote speaker -- Amy Wilson-Stronks, principal investigator of a Joint Commission study on hospitals, language and culture -- said about 90% of respondents in a survey of care providers from 60 hospitals across the nation said they have some bilingual staff and about half were doing cultural competency training or assessments.
In the study, respondents were asked how they would treat a fictional Mexican immigrant who did not speak English and had severe abdominal pain. The fictional patient, whose English-speaking young daughter served as a translator, wanted doctors to give him temporary relief until he was able to visit a traditional healer to help him remove the hex he believes is causing the pain. Wilson-Stronks said that some of the respondents said they would order a psychiatric evaluation of the patient or try to convince him that his beliefs were not true. Others said they would try to communicate with him through writing or drawing.
She said the Joint Commission is working to develop standards for culturally competent, patient-centered care that would assist physicians in such situations. She said patients "deserve to be able to communicate our needs to our providers -- we all deserve to be heard," adding, "Providers also need the resources available to them to do their jobs" (Hyslop, Montgomery County Gazette, 11/19).