Hospital Holds Cultural Diversity Day to Highlight its Heritages
Beenu Chadha sipped tea from Michael Nixon's mother's tea service while they chatted about the happenings at the Cultural Diversity Day Celebration at the San Ramon Regional Medical Center on Monday. Chadha was dressed in traditional Indian garb to represent her heritage, while Nixon wore a light gray suit and proudly displayed the tea service made in his hometown in the United Kingdom.
"The purpose of this event is to highlight our various heritages," said program coordinator Daisy Rodriguez, a nursing supervisor, who is from the Philippines. "There is so much cultural diversity in the community and even in our own hospital. Both staff and patients are becoming increasingly more diverse.
The celebration was part of an educational program for hospital employees. Its goals were to heighten awareness of traditions, beliefs and attitudes from various cultures around the globe. The hospital administration hopes this awareness will enhance staff's understanding and sensitivity to different expectations, wants and needs of people from different cultures in a healthcare environment.
Medical center employees showcased their own cultures. They dressed in traditional costumes, brought in ethnic foods to share and created elaborate cultural presentations and displays. They also freely and enthusiastically shared information about their cultures and how it relates to healthcare.
"In Iran, we are sympathetic when we approach our patients," said Fatemah Nazerian, a certified nursing assistant. "We almost have to feel their pain with them. In Iran, not everyone can be a nurse, so it is a very respected profession."
Satveer Dhaliwal, a nurse representing India, had a similar philosophy. "In the Indian aspect of medical practice, we bring our caring and compassion. We treasure our culture at the same time."
Another program for hospital employees involved lectures from staff about their own cultures. The lectures covered history, cultural identity, traditional values and beliefs, religious practices, concepts of health, medicine and healing. The lecture series has covered the Philippines, Japan, India, Russia and the Middle East so far.
Many people were surprised to learn that medicine is approached in a similar manner in Iran and Russia. "Russia shares a border with so many countries and cultures, so there are a lot of similarities," said Olga Bruno, from the Information Systems Department, during her lecture on Russian culture. "People didn't expect to see the similarities between the East and West."
Bruno said that Russian physicians and others in the medical field learn from German doctors and generally take a Western approach to medicine. She emphasized that for the last 70 years, Russia has had socialized medicine where the full spectrum of services were free. "That's the biggest thing," she said.
One problem that can stem from different cultures not understanding each other has to do with communication. Some patients have a limited knowledge of the English language and may not fully understand the context in which the language is used. "This may get in the way of our perceptions of patients and their wants and needs," Rodriguez said.
"In order to provide better care for our patients - culturally proper care - we need to be more sensitive to the cultures of other people," Rodriguez said. "It is a product of our culture and their culture."