Celebrating Black History Month:

A Call to Cultivate Cultural Competency in Healthcare

As we embark on the month of February, we have a unique opportunity to reflect, learn, and celebrate Black History Month.

At Lakeland Regional Health, we are committed to fostering a culture of inclusivity and understanding, recognizing the rich contributions of the Black community to our society and, particularly, to the field of healthcare.

This Black History Month, we invite all team members to join us in commemorating the past, acknowledging the present, and actively working towards a more equitable future in healthcare. Let’s take this month as an opportunity not only to celebrate but also to educate ourselves about the health disparities that persist within the Black community.

Understanding Health Disparities

Health disparities are differences in health outcomes that are closely linked with social, economic, and environmental disadvantage. The Black community faces unique challenges in accessing healthcare, leading to disparities in health outcomes.

Below, you will find a few more disparities that are common:

  1. Higher Rates of Chronic Diseases:
    Black individuals have higher rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases compared to other racial and ethnic groups.
  1. Maternal Mortality Disparities:
    Black women are at a significantly higher risk of maternal mortality compared to white women. They experience higher rates of pregnancy-related complications and face challenges in accessing timely and quality maternal healthcare.
  1. Cancer Health Disparities:
    Black individuals often have higher cancer mortality rates and are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage cancers. Barriers to early detection, treatment, and access to cancer care contribute to these disparities.
  1. Mental Health Disparities:
    Black individuals may encounter disparities in mental health outcomes, including a higher prevalence of certain mental health conditions. Factors such as stigma, lack of culturally competent mental health services, and socioeconomic stressors contribute to these disparities.

How Can We Improve Cultural Competency?

  1. Education and Training: Invest time in educational resources that enhance your understanding of cultural competency in healthcare. Seek out courses, seminars, or workshops that focus on providing equitable care to diverse patient populations. On our Learning Management System (LMS) search for our Thrive University classes and make sure to attend a Thrive University session in 2024!

  2. Community Engagement: Actively engage with local Black community organizations to gain insights into their unique needs and challenges. This will enable us to tailor our services to better meet the requirements of our diverse patient base.

  3. Cultivate Empathy: Put yourself in the shoes of patients from different backgrounds. Empathy is a powerful tool that can bridge gaps and enhance the patient-provider relationship.

Let this Black History Month be a catalyst for positive change within our healthcare system. Together, let’s commit to fostering a culture of inclusivity, empathy, and understanding. By doing so, we can ensure that our care is not only medically excellent but also culturally competent.

Black History Month Book List

To facilitate our journey in understanding the health-related and social determinants affecting the Black community, here’s a curated list of books to explore:

  1. Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
  2. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  3. Just Medicine: A Cure for Racial Inequality in American Health Care by Dayna Bowen Matthew
  4. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein
  5. Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor’s Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy