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Immigrants and Health Care in New York Hospitals

Kingston Personal Injury Attorney

Going to the hospital is a fairly universal experience among those in developed countries. Patients are treated for illnesses and then released. But in New York and elsewhere, the hospital experience is being transformed into one that takes into account an individual’s cultural needs, including ethnicity, race and even religion.

At Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York, female obstetricians are on call in the event that a Muslim woman arrives to give birth, but refuses a male doctor, while Bangladeshi women are told that yellow breast milk is in fact very healthy for a newborn.

The diverse neighborhood population, which counts more than 100 nationalities, prompted hospital staff to try to accommodate cultural differences, as well as bridge a few gaps.

In Merced, California, Hmong patients’ religious needs are respected with access to shamans, while in Houston, Texas, Asian patients are spared the usual lunch and dinner menus for more familiar fare like dumplings.

The focus on cultural needs makes patients more comfortable, especially those new to the U.S. To help potential patients feel safe, doctors and nurses have reached out to the various communities to discuss health care and what, if anything, can be done to expand their comfort level. A happy patient, say physicians, is a good patient.

The new efforts don’t come without some hitches. Waiting lines, for instance, are around an hour for a New York clinic that offers a prayer room for Muslims from West Africa. And many immigrants require longer visits to address illnesses that physicians may not be familiar with. Immigrants also generally have the same rights against medical malpractice that U.S. citizens have – but may not be aware of those rights.