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Bridging the Medical/Cultural Divide

Personalizing care with cultural sensitivity
Did you know our region is more diverse than ever before? In 2010, 27 percent of our state’s 12.7 million residents lived in Pennsylvania’s 48 rural counties. Out of that population, 8 percent are non-White and/or Hispanic.1

Patient-centered care begins by understanding the social and cultural influences that affect quality medical care. So it’s important that our employees recognize and appreciate these influences to build, maintain and improve patient relationships. 

But with many patients to see and little time to see them, it can be tough for healthcare professionals to grasp cultural issues while providing quality care.

Minority groups feel there is a lack of cultural sensitivity among those who work in healthcare.

--Community Health Needs Assessment, Healthy Northeast Pennsylvania Initiative, Dec. 2012

Geisinger is there

Finding strength in differences
In healthcare, diversity isn’t just about learning a language or hiring interpreters. It’s about understanding the backgrounds of people seeking healthcare.

As a long-time member of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Diversity Education Consortium (NEPDEC), Geisinger employees attend cultural competency workshops throughout the year and hold diversity training/consultation on campus. Our Director of Diversity is an executive board member of NEPDEC.

We share NEPDEC goals to create a more inclusive, dynamic culture in our region and to prepare for increasingly complex and diverse communities and workplaces. To achieve these goals, we:

  • Provide educational programming
  • Support members’ diversity initiatives
  • Organize networking and social events for relaxed interaction and sharing
  • Build alliances among historically isolated groups
  • Use shared resources more efficiently

Cultural Diversity Task Force
To effectively serve patients from different cultures, ethnicities, and religions, our Cultural Diversity Task Force addresses race, language differences, aging, disabilities, socioeconomic and sexual orientation issues, and has three subgroups: Education, Policies & Procedures and Language/Interpretation Services.

The task force, features a cross-section of diverse employees from across our health system, studies Geisinger staff diversity, discusses way to improve our cultural awareness within the community and educates staff on the importance of a culturally inclusive workplace. And Geisinger is one of a handful of healthcare organizations across the country to participate in a healthcare literacy study focused on improving quality of care for all individuals — especially those of different cultures and backgrounds.