Second Annual Diversity Fair at UVa Medical Center

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

December 12, 2005

Healthcare can be a very challenging profession and it makes it even that much harder when there are cultural or language barriers with patients. That's why the University of Virginia Health Systems is working to help bridge the gap when it comes to those differences.

It is called the Diversity Fair, and it is aimed at making sure that workers at the hospital have all they need to take care of those who need them the most, regardless of where patients are from.

"We do see a more diverse population every day, and the nurses noted the need to find services to support these patients," said co-chair of the Diversity Committee, Jonni Thoma.

To try to help fill that need, the UVa Medical Center started their annual Diversity Fair. This is the second year for the event, which offers healthcare workers resources to better deal with patients of different backgrounds and nationalities.

"Everything from language services, faith-based services, child care, domestic violence, all these issues with all the different needs of anybody who walks in our institution," said Thoma.

One of the hospital's challenges is language barriers. That's where the dual handset Cyra-com phone comes in. The patient uses one handset and the doctor the other to connect with live interpreters around the world. This past year, over 13,000 patients with limited English have benefited from the phone.

?We've had this phone for a little over five years and it's very well-used. It's very easy to do so. It's convenient. You don't have to wait on an interpreter and it just works well for us," said manager of the Languages Services Program, Sally Lebeau.

As healthcare workers stopped by the booths, they looked to find things that would work for them, perhaps making them better.

"You learn some information to take care of your patient, not just the body but also the whole patient," said Registered Nurse Katie Gough.

"It's an opportunity and a tool for me as a nurse to make sure that my patients understand the care I'm providing and what to expect during their hospitalization, and to make sure that they understand that with clarity," said Registered Nurse Kim Elgin.

The event was sponsored by the Professional Nursing Staff Organization. About 450 people came to the fair last year, so they estimate the same turnout or a little more this year.

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