Skip to content

Education on religious observances helps Penn State Health promote quality patient experience

Three major religious events are underway or will take place soon ─ Easter, Ramadan and Passover.

To advance workplace inclusivity and patient experience, Penn State Health has educated its employees on handling requests they may receive from both patients and colleagues who observe the holidays. Guidelines include dietary restrictions and changes in meeting or work schedules.

This year, Easter will be celebrated March 31, coinciding with Muslims’ observance of Ramadan. The Jewish observance of Passover will take place from April 22 to 30.

“To respect the traditions and requests of people who observe these religious holidays, we have worked to educate our colleagues on special requests they may receive,” said Lynette Chappell-Williams, Penn State Health vice president and chief diversity officer.

Time off, fasting, prayers

Christians observing Easter may, for example, request Good Friday or Orthodox Good Friday off.

Muslims who observe Ramadan, which began the evening of March 10 and ends the evening of April 9, fast from sunrise to sundown. “They do not eat or drink during daylight, unless they are exempt because of certain conditions,” Chappell-Williams said. “That practice can affect the way we serve our Muslim patients or how we schedule or hold meetings with colleagues of that faith.”

In that case, Penn State Health guidelines for caregivers include the notice that “Patients sick enough to be hospitalized should probably not fast, but it’s a good practice to ask each one. If a patient needs a minor procedure, determine if the procedure can be performed after Ramadan.”

From April 22 to April 30, Jewish communities avoid eating food made from leavened grain, which refers to bread or bread products, but can also include pasta and oatmeal. Managers have been asked to avoid booking critical meetings April 22, 23, 29 and 30.

Passover recommendations for Jewish patients include discussing care options that align with their observance of the holiday. These include restrictions on leavened grain products and ensuring patients have privacy for prayers.

Learn more about Penn State Health’s work to advance health equity.

If you're having trouble accessing this content, or would like it in another format, please email Penn State Health Marketing & Communications.