Emory Report
March 28, 2005
Volume 58, Number 24


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March 28, 2005
Grady doctor receives $25K grant for cultural training

BY alicia sands lurry

Will better familiarity with patients’ cultural backgrounds improve the care they receive? One Grady Hospital doctor is about to find out.

Inginia Genao, assistant professor of medicine and director of multicultural affairs at Grady, has received a $25,000 grant from the Aetna Foundation to implement cultural competency training for the hospital’s nursing staff. The project is a first for Genao, who in 1999 began a cultural competency curriculum to educate Emory medical students and residents about the nuances of various cultures representing the Grady patient population.

The Aetna grant is an extension of Genao’s cultural competency program; it will improve patient care, she said, by helping nurses understand and become more aware of cultural backgrounds and how cultural beliefs affect patients’ health practices. The effort is a collaboration with the Henry W. Grady Foundation and Grady’s Department of Language Interpretive Services, which provides patient interpretation and translation services in several different languages.

“Nurses play a crucial role in the care we provide our patients,” said Genao, who will oversee the grant. “We feel it is important that we actually train hospital personnel in cultural competency. An individual’s culture is inseparable from his or her health; our staff should understand how someone’s culture and background can impact overall health, as well as any nuances involved in providing them with specific healthcare services.”

The frequency and size of the training classes will dictate how many nurses will be trained. For now, Genao expects emergency medicine and surgical nurses, along with those in general medical clinics, to be among the first to receive training.

Genao is the founder and medical director of the International Medical Clinic at Grady, which sees a host of Hispanic, Ethiopian and African American patients each year. While the majority of her patients are Hispanic, Genao said cultural competency training will help nurses learn that certain diseases (such as diabetes) are more prevalent among certain ethnic groups, like Hispanics, than whites. In turn, nurses will learn how patients’ eating habits affect their health risks and how to help them modify their lifestyle and dietary choices.
Genao said she plans to apply for future grant funding to provide training for clerical and support staff, dieticians, and administrators.

“We’re hoping this [training] program will grow and grow and grow,” she said. “It will really enhance our ability to serve all of our patients.”