National Minority Health Month
April is National Minority Health Month. The month brings awareness to health disparities and encourages action through education, early detection, and disease control.
Studies show that some racial and ethnic minorities experience a disproportionate burden of preventable disease, death and disability. There is a move to understand this issue though health literacy and culturally competent care. For more on this, we welcomed Optum Arizona Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stacie Pinderhughes.
As noted by Pinderhughes, culturally conscious care is at the heart of addressing this disproportionality.
“When you think about culture, you think about people’s practices and beliefs and cultures and values,” said Pinderhughes. “The cultural competency piece, and the cultural humility piece is understanding that.”
Pinderhughes added that this is helping providers understand how to best communicate with patients. An example of this is, in Native American communities, talking directly about death can be seen as disrespectful or dangerous.
“When you’re engaging somebody for the Native American tribe you ask the question about how I can best communicate with you about your relative’s condition as we move forward,” said Pinderhughes.
Language barriers can also play a role in hindering doctor-patient communications. As Pinderhughes pointed out, it is crucial to use a trained translator in these instances.
“Ultimately, you want somebody whose had a training because then they will be able to communicate what you are trying to say as a clinician without the filters of maybe not wanted to say something direct to a family, and just getting a literal, and an important, clear translation,” said Pinderhughes.
The end goal is to empower the patient to be better informed of their health.