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Temple's Cultural Competence in Healthcare Symposium Opens Diversity Dialogue

News May 13, 2014

“Does raising your voice help a patient who doesn’t speak English understand you? Well, no. They’re just wondering: Why are you yelling at me?”
There are many more suitable ways to interact with patients who come from culturally diverse backgrounds, said Curtis Miyamoto, MD, Temple’s Chair of Radiation Oncology, during his keynote address at Temple University Health System’s second annual Cultural Competence in Healthcare Symposium.
The conference, held on May 2nd at the Temple Administrative Services Building, offered physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, and staff resources to serve Temple’s diverse patient population in more culturally sensitive ways. For example, topics included the impact of language standards on quality patient care, culture-specific stress management, working with the deaf and hearing-impaired from other countries, and health disparities among underserved Asian-Americans. The conference was led by Angel Pagan, MSM, Director of Linguistic and Cultural Services for TUHS.
“Educating staff on the role of cultural competency in patient care and safety was our main goal for the event,” said Sherry Mazer, Regulatory Officer for Temple University Health System, and one of the event’s organizers and lecturers. “We strive to offer a higher quality of care by minimizing communication breakdowns caused by language and cultural barriers. All of the content was based on framework set forth by the United States Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Minority Health and The Joint Commission,” she added.
Dr. Miyamoto’s talk focused on the unique needs of Temple’s Asian patients.
“Asians put an emphasis on family support, so often times, caregivers will find themselves communicating with the patient and their extended family throughout the care process,” Dr. Miyamoto said.
He noted the importance of understanding how many Asian families experience grief in an end-of-life situation, and how they rarely enter their family member into hospice care, choosing instead to stay by their bedside until their passing.
“Grief is considered private in Asian cultures, but caregivers who become close with a patient’s family may be invited to the funeral,” he said.
Susan Freeman, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Temple University Health System, also spoke at the event, and mentioned that Philadelphia County is currently ranked last out of 67 counties in the state for length of life and quality of life.
“We can turn that statistic around … and it starts with better understanding the diverse backgrounds of our patient population,” she said.