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Diversity Grand Rounds explore addictions, disabilities, vulnerable populations

Penn State Health Diversity Council representatives explored a variety of topics to advance diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the health system during Diversity Grand Rounds in the first half of 2024. These diversity informational sessions built on fall 2023 events and included the following:

Patient care

Penn State Health Medical Group practitioners learned about the impact of cultural differences among patients that can affect care and effective communication. Hector Ortiz, program manager for Diversity and Inclusion, led the February session.

Ministering to patients with addictions

Spiritual Care employees and nurse educators at Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center focused on ministry with patients battling drug and alcohol addiction at a March lunch-and-learn session. Representatives from the Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance outlined how chaplains and other care providers can best serve these patients. Topics included addiction-related stereotypes, correct terminology and appropriate ways to ask patients questions.

“We have seen an uptick in the number of patients battling addictions,” said Alex Circo, vice president of Mission and Ministry. “I believe our chaplains came away with an increased sensitivity of how to engage with patients and support them during their hospital stay.”

Reviewing ADA accommodations

In April, attorney Renee Mattei Montgomery from the law firm Eckert Seamans reviewed Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations and how to coordinate the processes involved for the health system’s Human Resources Department.

Caring for vulnerable populations

Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Family and Community Medicine Department studied ways to make vulnerable populations more comfortable when receiving care. Dr. Viviana Martinez-Bianchi, associate professor and director for health equity at Duke University’s Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, explored the concepts of health equity, vulnerability and intersectionality.

A founder and co-director of LATIN-19, the Latinx Advocacy Team and Interdisciplinary Network for COVID-19 that helped to address Hispanic health during the pandemic, she highlighted the importance of understanding how personal and professional identities intersect with patients and communities. She also emphasized equity and empowerment in caring for vulnerable patients and their communities.

Diversity in surgery

In May, the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center examined discrimination and bullying in surgical training and how those issues can negatively affect trainees and patients. Dr. Carol Copeland shared the history of women and minorities in surgical specialties, emphasizing the importance of a diverse surgical workforce. She also stressed the need to address implicit bias, micro-aggressions and hostile work environments.

Diversity can address disparities

The Department of Neurology at Penn State College of Medicine studied ways that diversity in neurology can help to address disparities in neurologic health. The June session also explored career barriers in neurology for marginalized populations and strategies to promote workforce diversity and health equity in neurology departments.

Dr. Roy Hamilton, assistant dean of Diversity and Inclusion at Penn Medicine and a University of Pennsylvania professor of neurology, led the session.

Diversity Grand Rounds provide a forum for departments, hospitals and other entities that are part of the Diversity Council to share best practices and seek input on their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The council includes representatives from all five adult acute care hospitals, the Medical Group, Shared Services and most clinical departments at Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

For more information, email the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

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