University of Kentucky Medical Workers Discuss Diversity

April 27, 2007

Author: Barbara Isaacs

Source: Lexington Herald-Leader

More than 100 University of Kentucky medical workers -- from students to doctors and nurses -- attended a panel discussion yesterday intended to help them better understand patients of various cultural and geographic backgrounds.

"We need to be aware of each other," said Rachelle Lehner, UK's director of staff education. "What I hope the staff learns from it, is at the core level, we are all people and we all want the same things -- respect, dignity and a sense of self worth."

The panelists represented some of the special populations that hospitals treat, including Muslims, Jews, Hispanics, people with disabilities, Asians, people from Appalachia and those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Beforehand, the panelists were asked to consider what information health care providers should take into account when dealing with their population. Their answers included issues such as visitors, involvement of family in care, beliefs related to care, death and dying customs, dietary regiments and the like.

The panel's Muslim presenter, Abeer Al-Ghananeem, mentioned her religions' requirement that people visit the ill -- including people that they may not know well, which can sometimes mean large numbers of visitors for people of their faith. Al-Ghananeem, an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy, is executive director of the Kentucky branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation's largest Islamic civil liberties group

See also: Interfaith, Civic, Health