UNIITE - Understanding the Need for
Interfaith / Intercultural Togetherness & Education

Health Care & World Religions Series
Meeting date: March 25, 2006
Location: Birch Room, St. Cloud Hospital


Minutes taken by: Gwen Dahlhoff


Individuals Present:
Nazareth, Malcolm (UNIITE)
Nazareth, Mariani (UNIITE)
Knutson, Paul (CentraCare Health System/ Project Heal)
Dahlhoff, Gwen (St. Cloud Hospital)
Studer, Ana Maria (Yoga Instructor, Anna Marie's House)
Robin, Sandy (SCSU)
Sowada, Frank (Pranic Healing)
Reuter, Bret (St. Cloud Hospital)
Tuff, Dianne (UpFront Consulting)
Cheurenrath, Sanh (Lao Buddhist interpreter)

The Meeting was called to order at 4:00 pm on March 25th , 2006 in the Birch Room at the St. Cloud Hospital.

Dianne Tuff from UpFront Consulting presented the findings of the focus groups conducted under the direction of the Health Care Committee. The purpose was to identify barriers to a community standard of health care for five diverse ethnic religious and cultural groups in the St. Cloud area.

Foreign born are three times more likely to be uninsured. The rate decreases the longer they have been in the United States.

The Health Care Committee and UpFront Consulting conducted focus groups of five cultural communities; African American, American Indian, Latino, Somali, and Vietnamese.

There were 60 total participants. UpFront used various methods to minimize barriers while collecting information during the focus groups.

The focus groups liked;

  • The quality care
  • Physicians who care, listen and take time
  • Knowledgeable providers
  • Nice nurses
  • Getting appointments quickly

For Latino, Somali and Vietnamese participants limited English skills are a major barrier. Participants say they need properly trained and accurate interpreters, bilingual providers and staff, and a resource office with bilingual staff and materials.

Malcolm and Paul both noted that these concerns are being addressed in the clinic and improvements have been made. Bret noted that $286,000 was spent on interpretive services by the CentraCare system. It was noted that having properly trained interpreters for the medical field is an industry issue.

Committee Strategies;

  • Plan and implement a meeting between major language interpreter services and health care providers
  • Negotiate with interpreter services to offer clinic sessions for staff on how to effectively work with interpreters and with immigrant populations
  • Ask interpreter services if they would volunteer to translate health care materials

The focus groups said cultural insensitivity/competence is a barrier.

Committee Strategies;

  • Increase health care staff's cultural sensitivity and competence
  • Offer diversity and cultural sensitivity training
  • Hold a forum for providers to listen to members of cultural groups
  • Recruit culturally diverse providers
  • Facilitate patient survey with all clinics
  • Plan and implement a community-wide workshop for service providers on cultural competency/sensitivity
  • Distribute CentraCare's diversity handbook
  • Service providers communicate with each other
  • Agree on consistent info to be shared with patients/clients

The focus groups said navigating the system is a barrier.

Committee strategies;
-Start a community health workers program through the Tech College

The focus groups said cost of care and insurance is a barrier;

Committee strategies;
-Solutions are beyond this committee's scope

The focus groups said transportation is a barrier;

Committee strategies;

  • Educate all service providers about local transportation services and options available, and how to help clients access them
  • Develop a brochure with simple, key information about getting transportation
  • Encourage human service and health care providers to share information about transportation resources
  • Encourage transportation providers to coordinate their services with other providers

Thoughts Shared About the Presentation

  • Provides focus, what is most important to patients, what we do well, and what we can improve on.
  • Educate providers about issues and get them on board.
  • The UNITE education sessions will focus on providers but anyone is healthcare system is welcome.
  • System change is needed. Try to get the physicians to the education sessions because in the long run the change needs to be through the physicians.
  • Pieces from traditional and western medicine can work together.
  • Evidence needs to be given to prove the advantage of changing mentality.
  • Statistical evidence is needed to prove what we naturally know.
  • Across the world and time the center of the system should be the person with the ailment. Now money and profit have taken center stage of the health care system.
  • The reason to change can be found in all professions Code of Ethics. Each provider is aligned with a code that states they are responsible to put the patient in the center of their treatment, which necessitates the use of holistic medicine and the respect for cultural differences.
  • Insurance may change in the next two years to be more like a buffet with many options to choose from.
  • Dr. Mary Howard will lead the panel discussion to be held after the viewing of "The New Medicine." The Whitney Senior Center is the preferred location and 6:30-8:30 is the time on 9/5/06.
  • The next UNITE meeting will be Tuesday July 11th.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:45 p.m.