Hispanic Center of Excellence

Center Urges More Latinos in Medicine

By Sondra Levin
Bronx Times October 24, 2002

Lincoln Hospital is in the forefront of a new movement to provide "cultural competency" education, which are skills in communicating with people of other cultures.  Leadership of Lincoln Hospital points out that a need exists for cultural sensitivity and understanding because it is integral to improving the quality of health care in general.  Hospital leaders point out cultural competency is especially important at Lincoln Hospital, since it sits within a diverse community. 

Hospital leaders point to a study by the Institute of Medicine that found the main reason people don't get medical care is that they want to see a doctor of their own culture or one who understands their culture. 

Dr. Nereida Correa, chairman of the Department of OB-GYN and Women’s Health at Lincoln Hospital, is heading the cultural competency at the facility at 149th Street and Morris Avenue.  She brought her five years of background in cultural competency education and her two years of teaching the subject at Albert Einstein College of Medicine when she came to Lincoln Hospital in May. 

In July at Lincoln Hospital Dr. Correa began teaching cultural competency to 12 OB-GYN residents and attending physicians, as well as some Cornell medical students.  The director of Lincoln Hospital asked Dr. Correa to provide the cultural competency program for an institution-wide curriculum that she plans to implement it in January. 

Dr. Correa will provide the training for the program and additional speaking and learning facilitators will be involved.  The program will include lectures, workshops and problem-based learning vignettes for medical professionals and students. 

In the community that surrounds Lincoln Hospital, Hispanics are the predominant group, including Dominicans and Puerto Ricans.  The population is also 30 to 40 percent African-American, with rising numbers of immigrants from African and Caribbean countries. 

Dr. Correa, who graduated in 1985 from Einstein College of Medicine and got  her training in family medicine and OB/GYN at Montefirore Medical Center , began her program of cultural competency at Einstein College of Medicine by providing isolated lectures.  Then she developed a curriculum for third-year students.  Her course was later integrated into the curriculum at the school. 

She has been active on the cultural competency issue for five years, working with the New York State Academy of Family Physicians and the National Hispanic Medical Association.  She was the director of the state's first Hispanic Center of Excellence, which opened at Einstein Medical Center in 2001. 

Cultural competency has been a movement since the 1950's.  Correa said a key point about understanding people from different culture is that while cultures have some differences, they have many similarities.  She stressed that physician's benefit from the program because they understand their own cultures and other cultures, and they gain long-term communications skills.

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