Monday, September 05, 2011


Region’s diversity is something to celebrate

Ekse ou santi doulè nan pwatrin lan koulye a?

Imagine how frightening it would be to seek medical help for your severe chest pain in the hospital emergency room but you can’t make yourself understood to the doctors and nurses.

Unless you understand Haitian Creole you would not know that the first sentence of this column is “Are you having chest pain right now?”

As The Bulletin has reported recently, 37 different languages are spoken in the homes of students attending NFA. Backus Hospital serves this same community and has dealt with the increasingly frequent challenge of providing healthcare for non-English speaking patients.

So how have we dealt with this challenge? There are three significant initiatives at work towards solving this problem.

The first is language interpretation services. Backus has contracted with a phone language interpreter service, as well as a video interpreter service, both available 24 hours a day to provide immediate interpretation or translation by certified medical interpreters in more than 150 languages.

The second important initiative was to establish a Cultural Diversity Council, made up of 14 staff members from different disciplines and cultural backgrounds. The mission of the Council is to increase cultural competence of our healthcare providers and services through educational programs and to deal with any issues that arise.

The third initiative is the annual fun and exciting “Multicultural Health Fair.”

This year’s fair is entitled, “Discovering Our Diversity” and will be held Thursday, Sept 29, from 3-7 pm in the main lobby conference rooms at Backus.

More than 22 cultures will be represented. There will be music, free food samples from two cultures, dance performances, and informational handouts about the healthcare customs and preferences of each culture.

This is truly an enjoyable event that is free and open to all: hospital staff, patients, visitors, and the community. Come join us and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of our diverse community!

For more info, call (860) 889-8331, ext 2495.

Alice Facente is a registered nurse and clinical educator with the The William W. Backus Hospital Education Department. This column should not replace advice or instruction from your personal physician. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at or e-mail Ms. Facente or any of the Healthy Living columnists at

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