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The Journey to More Culturally Competent Care

St. Charles uses Epic, training programs, and art to improve care equity for Native American and Latinx patients

An important step toward reducing health disparities for minority populations is for healthcare organizations to reflect the diversity of their communities. To improve cultural competency, St. Charles Madras in Oregon has kicked off a major effort to better care for their diverse patient population, which is one-third Native American, one-third Latinx, and one-third white.

One of the hospital’s initiatives is to establish a clinical protocol in partnership with Oregon Health & Science University to ensure timely care for Native American children who have the genetic metabolic disorder CPT1. When a patient with the condition arrives at the hospital, guidance in Epic prompts the care team to room the patient immediately and provides next steps for treatment.

St. Charles Madras also established a Patient Family Advisory Council to identify gaps in care in Native American communities. The council has developed guidelines that have led St. Charles Madras to create nursing care plans in Epic for the Native American community. The hospital also switched from a mailed patient satisfaction survey to a telephone survey to reflect cultural traditions favoring oral communication.

“[With the telephone survey], participation has jumped from a small handful of people per month to upwards of 25 respondents per quarter, and all we had to do was ask,” said chief nursing officer Candy Canga-Picar. “They’re saying: ‘Involve us. We’re your patients.’”

In addition to using Epic tools to better care for their patients, St. Charles Madras has held cultural competency training for caregivers and installed Native American art in the hospital, replacing art that didn’t accurately reflect the area’s tribes. In November 2019, they launched an advisory council for Latinx patients, and they plan renovate the Madras Family Birthing Center to visually reflect both Latinx and Native American culture.

“Cultural competency is not a destination,” Canga-Picar said. “It’s an ongoing journey.”

Read more from St. Charles.