New transcultural patient-family advisory council
Educational outreach seeks to ease language and cultural barriers
In July 2011, a new patient-family advisory council gathered to find ways Mayo Clinic could increase its involvement with diverse communities in Rochester, Minn. Known as "One World," the new advisory council was created to give voice to those who might not be heard in other circumstances, often because of language and cultural barriers.
Bringing care to a diverse community
"We want to put a face on Mayo Clinic," says Juan M. Bowen, M.D., primary care physician at Mayo and a member of One World. "We need to let members of our diverse communities know we're here and that we care."
One idea with early support was educating the community on diagnosing and treating fever — when to treat fever at home and when to seek medical assistance, a topic particularly helpful for underserved communities. In September, five Mayo physicians and nurses successfully teamed with Winona State University nursing students to educate more than 400 people at Rochester's Hawthorne Education Center during its annual health fair. The center provides nearly 3,000 immigrants, refugees and under-educated adults with literacy classes and transition-to-school and -work programs each year.
"I used to go to a doctor right away when I had a fever. Now I know how to take care of myself at home. I also learned ways not to get sick," says Hannifa Ghedi, a Somali student learning English and working on her GED. Another participant, a Somali father of five children, attended the session twice, intent on learning all he could to protect the health of his family.
Breaking down barriers and widening Mayo's reach
According to One World member and Hawthorne Open Learning Center employee Kari Podenski, welcoming feedback from Mayo's culturally diverse patients is another way Mayo can meet the needs of the many patients it serves.
"Mayo Clinic can be intimidating as a medical institution for those who aren't native English speakers," Podenski says. "One World provides a place to become aware of the obstacles and frustrations they experience, and together find new ways to meet the community's needs in a culturally sensitive way."
Culturally competent care
Patient-family advisory councils are acknowledged as a best practice for health care institutions seeking patient feedback on a wide variety of topics. This type of council can ensure that systems work efficiently and effectively, that patients and families understand their plan of care and that patients' concerns and fears are addressed. One World is among the nation's first to be dedicated to culturally competent care, a foundational focus of Mayo Clinic.