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Why Cultural Competency Is Key To A Healthy Population


Black, Indigenous, and people of color are far more likely to get sick and die from the 10 leading causes of death due to a range of factors. Among these is lack of access and the cascading effects of racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and unconscious bias on minority health. And unfortunately, this is a historic problem, with injustices such as the Tuskegee syphilis experiment that started in the 1930s leading to a deep mistrust of the medical system that still lingers in the Black community today.

Dr. Hyman recently explored this history and current practices in the medical system in conversations with Dr. Charles Modlin and Harriet Washington. He also spoke with Dr. Modlin and Tawny Jones about the importance of creating culturally competent healthcare initiatives to remove many of the barriers that perpetuate racial health disparities. Dr. Charles Modlin is a Kidney Transplant Surgeon, Urologist, Executive Director of Minority Health, and the Cleveland Clinic Physician Lead for Public Health. He is the past President of Cleveland Clinic Medical Staff, Member Board of Governors and Board of Trustees. He founded and directs Cleveland Clinic’s Minority Men’s Health Center (MMHC) and in 2003 established Cleveland Clinic’s Annual Minority Men’s Health Fair.

In 2011, he was named by The Atlanta Post as one of the Top 21 Black Doctors in America. He graduated from Northwestern University and Northwestern University Medical School, completed a six-year residency in Urology at New York University, a three-year fellowship in kidney transplantation surgery at Cleveland Clinic and joined the Cleveland Clinic Staff in 1996. He is a noted national leader for eliminating health disparities. Honors include appointment to the Ohio Commission on Minority Health by two Ohio Governors, Northwestern University Presidential Alumni Medal, 2007 MLK Community Service Award, Call & Post 100 Top Influential Leaders, Cleveland Magazine Best Doctors, Cleveland Clinic Bruce Hubbard Stewart Humanitarianism Award, and 2015 Black Professional Association Professional of the Year recognition.

Harriet A. Washington has been the Shearing Fellow at the University of Nevada's Black Mountain Institute, a Research Fellow in Medical Ethics at Harvard Medical School, a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University, and a visiting scholar at DePaul University College of Law. She has held fellowships at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Stanford University. She is the author of Deadly Monopolies, Infectious Madness, and Medical Apartheid, which won a National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN/Oakland Award, and the American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award. Tawny Jones is an accomplished Administrator at the Cleveland Clinic.

For 19 years, she has served as a well-respected leader, managing patient concentric care initiatives, creating value, and delivering results in quality improvement, efficient resource management, and health system optimization for various clinical departments. Currently, Tawny leads clinical operations at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine where the goal is to establish the efficacy of Functional Medicine and demonstrate its cost effectiveness and its ability to improve health. Her passion for the promotion of preventative health services and community-based interventions gave impetus to the development of several clinical programs. The Functioning for LifeTM shared medical program for chronic disease management is her brainchild and has proven to be a successful model for addressing lifestyle and behavior change. Tawny is also on the African Employee Resource Group Steering Committee and is committed to helping minorities achieve their career goals.

Find Dr. Hyman’s full-length conversation, “Why We Have The Worst Health Outcomes Of All Industrialized Nations,” with Dr. Charles Modlin, Dr. Leonor Osorio, and Tawny Jones here:

Find Dr. Hyman’s full-length conversation, “How We Are Poisoning Our Children,” with Harriet Washington here:

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Ep. - Why Cultural Competency Is Key To A Healthy Population