HCD Virtual will be held Nov. 9-12 and offer a variety of keynote and breakout sessions delivered over four days. Healthcare Design is previewing some of the upcoming educational sessions in a series of Q+As with speakers, sharing what they plan to discuss and key takeaways they plan to offer attendees. For more on the HCD Virtual schedule and registration, visit HCDvirtual.com.

Session: The Importance of Culturally Inclusive Care, Tuesday, Nov. 10, 4:30-5:30 p.m. EST

Speakers: Dr. Morgan Wills, president and CEO, Siloam Health; Lori McGilberry, managing principal, Kilter LLC; Lauren Smith, family nurse practitioner, Siloam Health

Nashville nonprofit Siloam Health serves the needs of the city’s native-born and foreign-born uninsured and underinsured using a unique, interdisciplinary model to provide comprehensive medical care.

In this case study presentation, speakers from the healthcare organization will examine Siloam Health’s newest outreach clinic, which opened in the spring, and delve into how the design of the facility supports Siloam’s model of culturally inclusive care and how these design solutions can be applied more broadly.

Healthcare Design: What does “culturally inclusive care” mean? 

Dr. Morgan Wills: At Siloam Health, culturally inclusive care is about caring for the patient as a whole person imbedded in a community. It begins with humility and transparency about the cultural assumptions that we as providers bring into healthcare encounters.

It then pays particular attention to the social and cultural context of our patients. We seek to be curious and create space—both literally and figuratively—for the cultural views and practices relevant to the patient’s health concern to come into the light. We don’t need to be experts on every culture, but we do need to be avid, self-aware learners.

What are some design approaches that project teams can use to create built environments that support this care?  

To be honest, as a physician-executive, I’m not a design expert. But in our practical experience delivering nonprofit primary care for immigrants and refugees, we’ve found that the built environments really do matter. Some approaches we’ve found particularly helpful include:

  • Engaging members of the patient community early on in the design process.
  • Making choices compatible with your mission even when they defy conventional wisdom.
  • Leaving room for the unexpected.

How can culturally inclusive healing environments impact the patient and staff experience? 

One idea that comes to mind is that such environments are so enriching. Many people would be surprised to learn that there are 140 languages spoken in the Nashville school system, or that 1 in 7 Nashvillians is foreign-born.

To be candid, these differences in language and worldview can be frustrating for the efficiency-minded healthcare provider. But the right kind of mission and the right kind of space can help to overcome these barriers, in some cases increasing healthcare access and improving the chance of positive health outcomes for patients.

As for the staff with the right mindset, the cross-cultural encounter is its own transformative reward. As G.K. Chesterton wrote about travel (which applies equally well to cross-cultural care): “The whole object of travel is not to set foot on a foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”

For more on the HCD Virtual schedule and registration, visit HCDvirtual.com.