Cultural Awareness in Health Systems
On Wednesday, November 28th from 5.30PM-8PM, All for All and the Pittsburgh chapter of Whitetulip Health Foundation hosted the second of four quarterly workshops.
The workshop started with networking among diverse healthcare professionals and community members for an hour while enjoying refreshments. Cultural Awareness in Healthcare Systems workshop then started with welcoming remarks by Dr. Murat Sari of Allegheny General Health Hospital, Department of Neurology and volunteer of Whitetulip Health Foundation. Dr. Sari shared the updates from “Diverse Healthcare Professionals Network” Project that aims to nourish diversity of local healthcare workforce via supporting new coming immigrant/refugee population with career guidance.
“Immigrants face many challenges when arriving the U.S. and finding job for highly skilled immigrants especially as a healthcare professional is another obstacle for their integration. With one to one mentoring program for immigrant/refugees, as Whitetulip Health Foundation and All for All aim to help these vulnerable population integrating into the U.S. Healthcare Systems,” says Dr. Sari in the Community House of Allegheny Health Network, Center for Inclusion Health.
Event continued with experiences of Ashok Gurung of Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh and Priscila Gonzalez of Latino Community Center. Priscila expressed concerns regarding being not able to access to services due to lack of available information. She said, “Services are there but access to that information is not”. Ashok Gurung continued conversation with mentioning many mental health issues of many immigrants including Bhutanese Community Members such as seasonal affective disorder that affects many elderly members of their community.
Then Dr. Stephanie Dewar of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Program Director of Pediatric Residency gave a keynote address to the audience about her program’s efforts into increase diversity of healthcare workforce including role-play workshop for their residents that aims to practice how to respond to difficult conversations or comments from patients or colleagues centering around discrimination. Dr. Stephanie Dewar then led the forum that included a panel of healthcare professionals including Kathleen Fitzsimmons (Manager of Care Navigation, Squirrel Hill Health Center), Dr. Ermal Aliu (UPMC Children’s Hospital) and Dr. Divya Venkat (Allegheny General Hospital). As a panel local health care access or service related problems of immigrant/refugee populations were discussed.
The themes of subsequent workshops will focus on career building and understanding the U.S. healthcare system in general. The network aims to build a community of immigrants and diverse healthcare professionals to create career pathways for those interested in entering the field.
For those that were not able to attend the workshop, main topics/discussion points from the workshop were as follows;
- There are many services available within our region for immigrant and refugee populations but access of individuals to this information is the main obstacle
- For the biggest healthcare providers within the region such as UPMC or Allegheny Health Network, employing community members from those immigrant/refugee populations might ease the burden of many social issues while taking care of these vulnerable populations
- As it happens for many vulnerable populations, immigrants/refugees also carry many mental health issues and more practical services are needed to address these issues
- Many providers and community members expressed in need of better language access for immigrant/refugee populations, especially face to face interpreters compared to “blue phones” that is commonly used in many local hospitals
- To overcome discrimination at work place, more interactive workshops such as “role-plays” are needed
- To increase access, we need to empower local immigrant/refugee centers with information of available local healthcare related resources such as “Free cancer screening program” offered by Allegheny Health Network or “Birmingham Free Clinic” and many others.
- Share holders of healthcare practice such as Allegheny Health Network and UPMC should meet with local immigrant/refugee center representatives to offer better service and find solutions for the common issues while providing care to those community members