News & Events

Caring for different cultures

March 10, 2014

In some areas of Eastern Connecticut, language and cultural barriers can be major obstacles in the delivery of healthcare. In an effort to bridge the gap, Backus Hospital recently held two community outreach programs aimed at delivering vital healthcare information and screenings to Haitian (Creole), Chinese and Spanish speaking residents in Norwich.

On Jan. 28, Backus hosted a breast health educational program for 41 underserved and/or uninsured participants

in the Norwich Adult Education program. Breast Health Patient Navigator Coordinator Donna Slonski, RN, discussed breast health and the importance of self-exams in English while volunteer nurses Dina Dufort and Saihuan Zeng, fluent in Haitian Creole and Chinese respectively, provided simultaneous interpretation for non-English speaking participants. A Spanish instructor with the Norwich Adult Education program interpreted the same information for the Spanish-speaking students. Written educational materials were provided in all languages including English.

On Feb. 2, Liz Sibicky, APRN, from the Backus Center for Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, presented an educational program focusing on the basics of diagnosis, management and treatment of diabetes at the Peniel Church in the Greeneville section of Norwich. Community Health Education Nurse Lisa Cook provided a blood glucose screening to 29 parishioners — 11 of them Haitian — and were subsequently able to discuss their results with Sibicky. A church member was available to interpret for the Creole-speaking participants.

“We’re trying to reach out to people who normally don’t come through the hospital for their healthcare or for healthcare information,” said Alice Facente, RN, MSN, Community Health Education Nurse. “When there are language and cultural barriers, having simultaneous interpretation and interaction is key. Participants get real-time answers to their questions and concerns. This is truly what preventative health care is all about.”

The programs resulted from discussions with the Backus Cultural Diversity Council for suggestions on how to effectively deliver health education and screenings to underserved, non-English speaking populations.

“We sought out the optimum location for outreach to culturally diverse populations,” Facente said. “We found that connecting with churches was the most effective way to reach out in these communities.”

In the spring, Backus will host a health fair for the Haitian population at the Taftville Congregational Church. In some areas of Eastern Connecticut, language and cultural barriers can be major obstacles in the delivery of healthcare. In an effort to bridge the gap, Backus Hospital recently held two community outreach programs aimed at delivering vital healthcare information and screenings to Haitian (Creole), Chinese and Spanish speaking residents in Norwich.