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“This hospital wasn’t always like this,” says Douglas Jablon, the senior vice president of patient relations at Maimonides Medical Center.

Today, when he walks around this Brooklyn hospital, he hears as many as 70 languages. When he arrived 41 years ago, diversity meant having Orthodox Jews and other Jews in the same space. Jablon, who is Jewish, said his main job was to get them all to get along.

Then the hospital decided to encourage people from outside the Jewish community to come through its doors, and Jablon took on the challenge. At his first stop — St. Finbar’s, a Catholic church in Brooklyn with a heavily Italian-American congregation — he was met with questions like “why should I come to that Jewish hospital?” Jablon recalls.

That’s all changed. Maimonides is located Brooklyn’s Borough Park, a neighborhood that’s still home one of the largest Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish populations in the US, but also new immigrants from China and the Arab world. Adjacent communities served by the hospital are predominantly Latino or home to European immigrants.

I went to Maimonides to learn about how ethnic and religious diversity affects healthcare and what doctors and hospital administrators need to think about as the populations they serve change.

It’s not just about dealing with language barriers. Our cultural backdrop affects how we talk about illness and death, and our ethnicity can make us more prone to develop diseases like diabetes or certain cancers, and the doctors at Maimonides have to think about every way they engage with new or different communities — all the way down to how they decorate.

I also learned about a concept called community-based healthcare, the whole point of which is to consider a person’s individual circumstances — whether you’re talking about ethnicity or language barriers or poverty.

New York, of course, is unique in …read more

Source:: Business Insider

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