Washington DC Area Hospital Delivery Rooms Accommodate Increasing Diversity

May 12, 2002

Source: The Washington Post

On May 12, 2002, The Washington Post reported that "faced with an influx of immigrant mothers over the past decade, delivery rooms across the Washington area are increasingly adapting not just to unfamiliar languages, but to a new set of traditions and taboos... Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring has become adept at assembling all-female teams of obstetricians, nurses, anesthesiologists and even neonatologists to attend Middle Eastern women whose Muslim religion forbids examination by male health workers. The maternity ward has also learned to keep placenta-size biohazard containers on hand for patients, usually from African countries, whose tradition is to take the placenta home and bury it... 'It's extremely challenging, because you don't just have to worry about meeting the language or religious needs of one culture but of multiple cultures and multiple beliefs and values surrounding health care,' said Elita Rosillo-Christiansen, who supervises multicultural initiatives at Inova [Alexandria Hospital]... Many area hospitals have hired multicultural experts to run sensitivity workshops and write internal guides to introduce staff to various cultural traditions... For all the challenges, however, hospital staff members said the diversity of their patients has been a boon. Immigrant mothers are almost always extremely grateful, they note. And the opportunity to learn about so many parts of the world makes the job more interesting."