As our community’s primary healthcare organization, we care for everyone who enters our doors, and our goal is to care for them compassionately and in the manner they prefer.

Many of us were taught the Golden Rule—treating others as we would like to be treated. In almost every case, that’s probably a safe and appropriate approach, but it may not go far enough. What’s complicated is that we don’t all look at things through the same lens, because we don’t all have the same background, experience and perspective.

Cultural diversity encompasses factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious practice and social status. Increasing awareness of cultural diversity is an important goal for individuals and organizations, and at Winona Health, we’re committed to developing a deeper understanding of—and appreciation for—what makes each person unique.

In many cases, people aren’t fully aware of how these factors may frame a person’s assumptions and expectations—or, specific to healthcare, their degree of understanding or preferences related to their health status and treatment options. The fact that there are so many facets to diversity emphasizes the importance of inclusiveness in our community and in our organization.

To help current and new staff confidently meet the needs of each community member, our plans related to cultural diversity include opportunities to increase what’s called cultural competence. This includes work that will have lasting organizational effects, helping us to continue serving a diverse population today and into the future. So far, we’ve:

  • Assembled a workgroup of internal leaders to develop an intercultural growth plan for the organization
  • Engaged a consultant who provided a day-long training to the workgroup to begin to uncover our own
    organizational culture and how this is reflected through policies, practices, etc.
  • Initiated a process to train one of our Learning and Development staff to be certified in administering
    the Intercultural Development Inventory (a tool used to evaluate one’s individual cultural competence).

In addition, Winona Health, along with other community organizations, is participating in a workgroup led by Project FINE. Project FINE is encouraging area leaders to post a welcoming statement demonstrating their organization’s commitment to being a welcoming place serving all Winonans. We are pleased to participate with this group as an extension of our work.

Becoming more fully aware of the needs and preferences of a culturally diverse community sharpens our focus on meaningful engagement with each person. It is also a fundamental aspect of helping all community members improve their health and well-being, which has been our mission and our commitment to this ever-evolving community for 125 years.

Rachelle Schultz, EdD
President/CEO

Through this digital column, I hope to shine a light on what we’re working on both internally and beyond our walls in collaboration with other community-focused organizations.

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