Womans Hospital CEO Discusses Equity in Care for Culturally Diverse Communities

July 09, 2013
Teri Fontenot, Woman’s Hospital President and CEO, participated in a discussion on healthcare diversity at the International Hospital Federation’s (IHF) 38th World Hospital Congress on June 18-20 in Oslo, Norway. Fontenot was part of an American Hospital Association session about equity in care, eliminating healthcare disparities and promoting diversity. The focus of the 38th Congress was “Future Healthcare.”

Fontenot discussed how Woman’s, a statewide leader in obstetrics, gynecology, breast and neonatal care, has embraced both diversity and the elimination of disparities as part of its care process. She discussed the hospital’s diverse population, which includes Caucasians, African Americans, Asians and Hispanics, and emphasized how care should safeguard a patient’s personal dignity and respect their cultural, psychosocial and spiritual values. Dialogue included how an increased sensitivity to beliefs is not only the patient’s right, but also a key factor in safety and quality patient care. By understanding and respecting cultural, psychosocial and spiritual values, providers can better meet the patient’s care needs.

Woman’s was also recognized for prioritizing equity in care, citing the hospitals’ Mother-to-Child HIV Prevention Program and breastfeeding initiatives. Baton Rouge has highest rate in the U.S. in new HIV cases among females, a disease that disproportionately affects African American and Hispanic women. Woman’s Mother-to-Child HIV Prevention Program, funded through community support and individual gifts, has not had an HIV-positive baby born to a mother enrolled in the program.

Additionally, Woman’s is working with the African American community to encourage and educate families on the importance of breastfeeding to their child’s health. According to the CDC, African American women have lower breastfeeding rates than other primary ethnic/race groups due to a lack of understanding of its importance and a lack of support from families and friends.

The International Hospital Federation (IHF) is the global association of healthcare organizations, which also includes hospital associations and representative bodies. An independent, not for profit, non-governmental organization, the IHF helps hospitals worldwide improve the level of the services they deliver to the population regardless of that population’s ability to pay.