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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Tired but wryly triumphant: Culturally competent care for a Somali patient

On an afternoon in late September, Dr. Douglas Pryce and Dr. Osman Harare, the interpreter and patient advocate, emerged from an examining room looking tired but wryly triumphant. They had just finished negotiating, politely but persistently, with a patient who – just as politely but persistently – had refused to allow any blood tests because it was the holy month of Ramadan and he feared that having blood drawn might be a sin.

Finally, they telephoned an imam, who declared that there was no sin. The blood was drawn.

Dr. Pryce says that one of the great joys of working in a hospital like Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis is finding ways to bridge such cultural divides – and knowing that his patients are better off because of it.

Advice to people of another culture: Find a medical provider and interpreter who respect your cultural beliefs and medical preferences.

Read another story about culturally competent care.

Thanks to Denise Grady for the source article in the New York Times of March 29.

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