By Christine Wilson Owens and Yetta Levine, Harborview Medical Center.
Made possible in part by a professional development award from the NNLM/PNR, two staff members from Harborview Medical Center’s EthnoMed program participated in the Eighth National Conference on Quality Health Care for Culturally Diverse Populations, March 11-14 in Oakland, CA.
The theme of this year’s conference was Achieving Equity in an Era of Innovation and Health System Transformation. It offered keynote speeches, workshops and roundtable discussions on issues related to cultural/linguistic competence and the reduction of health disparities. Sessions ranged from candid discussions about redressing the legacy of racism and bias in health care, to dialogues about interpreter training and community partnership models in tight fiscal times. Highlights included reports about national initiatives underway at the HHS Office for Civil Rights and opportunities for advancing health equity through the Affordable Care Act.
The conference presented a rich opportunity for EthnoMed to promote its work to a national audience and foster relationships with new partners. In particular, two new patient-education projects underway at EthnoMed were highlighted and generated a lot of interest. Yetta Levine networked with attendees from across the country during her poster session about a series of culturally-tailored, narrated diabetes education video slideshows regarding foods and their effect on blood sugar. Christine Wilson Owens shared about a project funded by NNLM/PNR in which HMC’s caseworker/ cultural mediators are using iPads to share health information with limited –English proficient (LEP) patients. Christine also participated in an interactive discussion with stakeholders working in the area of eHealth Equity, and a workshop about plain language and high tech strategies to communicate across language barriers.
Many programs from across the country emphasized best practices and innovative projects in their communities. EthnoMed’s team attended the conference with a strong contingent from Seattle – including staff and providers from Harborview, Swedish, Seattle Children’s and the Cross Cultural Health Care Program – and was thrilled to have the chance to learn and share skills and knowledge among recognized leaders in the field of health care and diversity.