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Avoid the Language Barrier

Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. embraces their patient’s diverse backgrounds. Instead of fighting against the current, Lutheran Medical Center works along with it. This strategy benefits them, but more importantly, the patient.

In Brooklyn, N.Y. neighborhood, “49 percent of residents are foreign-born”. The hospital also “offers patients written documents, including financial assistance applications, in Spanish, Creole, Arabic, Russian, Mandarin, and other languages when the need arises”. The medical center is able to have access to bilingual staff members because they hire employees who line in the diverse primary service area. These staff members have either the same or very similar cultural backgrounds as the patients who visit the medical center.

To keep the openly diverse environment comfortable for both the staff and patients, the medical center has the staff participate in annual “cultural competence training”. For example, “some patients struggle to communicate in English because they think it is required. Lutheran Medical Center staff are trained to recognize when that is happening and seek translation assistance from a staff member who speaks the patient’s native language.”

As a result of this strategy, Lutheran Medical Center spend less time trying to capture important medical and financial information, and more time on patient care.

http://www.hfma.org/Content.aspx?id=20468

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