UPMC executive develops program focusing on dignity and respect

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Candi Castleberry-Singleton is UPMC's chief diversity and inclusion officer, but she dislikes the word "diversity" very much.

"Traditionally, diversity means how many people you can count that are different ... but having diversity doesn't mean they're included," she said.

"Inclusion is the surest path to diversity."

And the surest path to inclusion, she said, is treating others with dignity and respect.

With that in mind, Ms. Castleberry-Singleton launched a Dignity and Respect campaign at UPMC in 2008. Nearly 15,000 of its some 50,000 employees, who were exposed to the concept at more than 100 inclusion workshops and employee focus groups, have taken a pledge to treat others the way they'd like to be treated.

Since then, the campaign has taken on a life of its own. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl declared October 2009 as Dignity and Respect Month within Pittsburgh, and nearly 5,000 residents signed pledges.

The campaign has spread further by proclamation of Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. UPMC also is taking the initiative into the city's public schools and to UPMC Northwest, a hospital in Venango County.

Even the city of Chicago has gotten into the act with its own dignity and respect initiative, Ms. Castleberry-Singleton said, and her office has spoken to people in Omaha, Atlanta and Syracuse.

"We're allowing the campaign to go viral," she said. UPMC is providing the tools; the other cities are getting their own sponsors.

The tools are good ones: UPMC's Dignity and Respect program recently was awarded the 2010 Innovations in Diversity Award by Profiles in Diversity Journal.

There are other health-related diversity and inclusion projects under way around the area, though none as large as the Dignity and Respect initiative.


Magee Womancare International is reaching out to the Latina population of Pittsburgh through a grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Pittsburgh affiliate. Called Mujeres Educando Mujeres: Breast Health in the Latina Community, it is designed to expand breast health outreach and education for underserved communities.

In the project, 10 bilingual (English and Spanish speaking) women were recruited to be trainers to educate Latina women about breast health, a proper breast health exam, and to know when and why they need to have mammograms, said Jennifer Jones, a public health grad student administering the program.

The trainers were certified by the national consortium of breast centers and then each was sent out into the Latino enclaves to find and teach five more women as promotores, or educators. Those 50 promotores are in turn to conduct two sessions each on breast health. The ultimate goal is to have given information to 1,000 women by the end of the calendar year.

"It's by basic word of mouth," Ms. Jones said of the rolling educational campaign. "The [sessions] will be held in churches, homes, community centers."


In the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, a committee from the Immigrant and International Advisory Council is working on an initiative, started last fall, that could help people who do not speak English with health care or legal services. It's called the Pittsburgh Language Bank, and it would have a roster of interpreters and translators for many different languages.

For now, said committee chair Lindsay Losasso, the language bank is in the planning and early implementation phase. A big issue is where the library would be housed and how it would be staffed.

"People are not getting adequate services," Ms. Losasso said. "There is no place they know that they can go to for services. It would be a clearinghouse -- and a great opportunity to hire ... people in refugee communities."

Ms. Losasso noted part of the Civil Rights Act requires federally funded agencies to provide interpreters and translators, but "it's not enforced strongly."

Ms. Losasso, coincidentally, works for the Squirrel Hill Health Center, which arguably reaches more ethnic populations than any other site in Pittsburgh. Languages spoken at the health center include Russian, Hebrew, Spanish, Arabic and American Sign Language.

The center also uses a phone translation service to help speakers of other languages, but CEO Susan Friedberg Kalson says it doesn't help after hours. As a result, the center went searching for a multilingual answering service and, Ms. Kalson said, "a staffer has found a nationally based answering service that handles more than 100 languages."

There are other health centers and clinics that reach out to the growing Latino population, as well as other ethnic groups.


Dr. Diego Chavez-Gnecco, of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, founded the first pediatric bilingual-bicultural clinic for Latino children in southwestern Pennsylvania in 2002. It expanded over the years to include Portuguese-speaking nurses and doctors, and in 2004, it took on the official name, Salud Para Ninos, or For the Health of the Child.

The clinic, based in Oakland, has hours Tuesday mornings and Thursday and Friday evenings plus by appointment, and it uses Children's mobile unit to hold more hours once a month at the Birmingham Free Clinic, 54 S. Ninth St., South Side. Adults can see a doctor at the Birmingham clinic while their children are seen by Dr. Chavez-Gnecco's staff.

"We see a lot of kids -- thousands of kids," he said. "In [my practice], 750 children are enrolled and we have probably more than 1,000 visits a year."

The clinics are not limited to Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking families.

"We also treat kids who are African-American who are not Latino. We see Asian children. We're open to anybody," he said.

At the Shea Medical Center attached to Shadyside Hospital, Tuesday mornings are dedicated to Spanish-speaking patients. The bilingual clinic started shortly after Dr. Caridad Hernandez joined the practice in the fall of 2008. The clinic now has several clinicians, including two native speakers and some who have learned Spanish to help Latino patients.

But, like Dr. Chavez-Gnecco, the staff has seen patients from other nations as well.

"I've had patients from Cameroon and the Philippines," said Dr. Hernandez, who is from Cuba.

"I had a Pakistani patient that we hooked up with a resident who spoke the same language," said D. Michael Elnicki. "We have had Japanese, Haitians, Philippinos ... Russians and a patient from Uzbekistan."

Latino officials also point to the Lincoln-Lemington health clinic, part of the East Liberty Family Health Center, as a good place for Spanish-speaking patients.

"We're seeing an increasing number of Hispanic patients," said Heather Lawrence, office manager at the Lincoln-Lemington site. "We're trying very hard to move in that direction [of providing for the Latino population]. We see it as a population that is underserved. ... We're actively seeking to fill that need."

Pohla Smith: psmith@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1228.


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