North Jersey hospital creates program geared toward Filipino-American patients

A North Jersey hospital is launching a program to attract Filipino-American patients by providing culturally sensitive medical care that includes Tagalog-speaking caregivers and Filipino food choices for patients.

The Asian health services group at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck already has similar programs for Korean- and Chinese-America patients, reported. Filipinos comprise the third-largest Asian ethnic group in New Jersey, with a population of about 100,000 statewide.

The program includes community outreach such as screenings, according to the article. Raymond Villongco, M.D., a doctor in the program, said the Filipino community is at high risk for diet-related diabetes and cardiovascular disease and conditions related to smoking. Older Filipinos in particular also are more comfortable seeing Filipino clinicians, he said.

Hospitalized patients will be able to read ethnic newspapers, see television channels geared toward Filipino patients and enjoy familiar food, the Bergen Record reported on

In some cases, efforts to appeal to minority populations are seen as key to improving the bottom line, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Chinese, Vietnamese and Indian immigrants, for example, all earn median household incomes above the $51,300 national average and generally have health insurance.

Seeing the need to help hospitals work with increasingly diverse populations, the American Hospital Association (AHA) and the Equity of Care Initiative released a guide in 2013 on how to become culturally competent.

"The steps to becoming culturally competent begin with understanding the background of the community and patient population, the effect that cultural influences have on care delivery, and the skills needed by clinicians and staff," the AHA said at the time.

Medical schools are struggling with similar issues. At Brown University, a task force of students, faculty members and administers is studying curriculum at Alpert Medical School after finding a "substantial portion" of the first- and second-year curriculum is racially biased, the Brown Daily Herald reported.

"When there are differences in health outcomes by race, these differences are often not contextualized, so it sends off the message that these differences in health outcomes are due to race," said Bryan Leyva, a student on the task force.

The Providence, Rhode Island, school already requires first-year med students to read a book about implicit bias called "Blind Spot," according to the article, and first- and second-year students also will be trained on how implicit bias affects patient care.

To learn more:
-here's the article
-see the Bergen Record article
-read the Daily Herald article