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Providing Care to Diverse Populations

Serving Diverse Populations

Real World Examples


Verona Greenland, R.N., C.N.M., M.P.H., Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Morris Heights Health Center, Bronx, NY.

Monica Smith Scott, M.A., Assistant Dean for Academic Diversity and Director, Multicultural Affairs, Medical College of Ohio and Hospitals, Toledo, OH.

Barbara Stern, Vice President of Diversity, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Boston, MA.

The ways in which a particular health care organization can effectively promote the delivery of culturally competent care varies considerably depending upon the nature of the organization, the population it serves, and other environmental factors. This session offered participants a range of perspectives and "real world" examples of initiatives to better address the needs of diverse populations by highlighting and discussing the activities of a health plan, a health care system, and a community-based provider organization, all of which have made significant strides in this area.

Verona Greenland, Executive Director and CEO of the Morris Heights Health Center in New York City, discussed the cultural competence initiatives established within her organization. She explained that the long-standing initiatives were started in an effort to effectively serve human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) patients.

She indicated that diversity is good business and that some of the key lessons her organization has learned from the establishment of their programs include:

  • The necessity of innovative leadership.
  • Baseline assessment of community needs.
  • Strategic planning and organizational buy-in.
  • Commitment to ongoing training and development.
  • Mechanisms for evaluation and feedback.

Monica Smith Scott, Assistant Dean for Academic Diversity and Director of Multicultural Affairs for the Medical College of Ohio and Hospitals, followed with the discussion of a newly initiated health-system-level program being run by her organization.

She explained that the agency embraced the cultural competence initiative because it:

  • Makes good business sense.
  • Fulfills a moral and ethical imperative.
  • Addresses student and employee concerns.

The Medical College of Ohio and Hospitals developed a strategic plan that incorporated both a diversity statement and diversity goals. The goals included the development of a training curriculum and cultural competency training for all members of the medical school community. The goals require the organization to broaden their research efforts to include cultural diversity issues as part of the research agenda. Because the initiative is so new, limited results of the program currently exist. However, the organization has addressed some of its greatest challenges by making a commitment to organizational change.

Barbara Stern, the Vice President of Diversity from Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) in Boston then discussed the programs HPHC has initiated to improve delivery of service to culturally diverse populations.

Like both Ohio and New York, HPHC clearly recognized the good business case for providing culturally competent services and has subsequently initiated a training program designed to increase awareness and improve diversity skills. HPHC also offers medical interpreter training courses. The results show marked improvement in efficacy of medical interpreters after completion of the training program and improved overall satisfaction of patients using the interpreter services.


Caudron S. Successful Companies Realize the Diversity is a Long-term Process, Not a Program. Personnel Journal 1993 Apr;72(4):51-62.

Schulman KA, Berlin JA, Harless W, et al. The Effect of Race and Sex on Physicians' Recommendations for Cardiac Catheterization. N Engl J Med 1999 Feb 25;340(8):618-26.

Kim H. Managing Diversity. American Medical News 1999 Jan 25;42(4):19-22.

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