Week 3, Health Literacy Attribute 3!

Say Ah! is celebrating Health Literacy Month with an interview and discussion series on the Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations. Below you will find the third interview of the series. This interview is meant both to inform and spark discussion. Please feel free to comment, question or contribute! Thank you!

Week 3’s Attribute: A Health Literate Health Care Organization Prepares the Workforce to be Health Literate and Monitors Progress.

We emailed Migna Taveras, Director of Cultural Competency and Health Literacy at Advocate Community Providers (ACP), to find out how ACP ensures a health literate workforce. 

Say Ah!: Even before you prepare your workforce to be health literate, how does health literacy factor into your hiring process both for patient facing – and non-patient facing – positions?

Migna: For all our positions, we look to recruit individuals who reflect our populations and understand the communities that we serve.  For example, many of the patients cared for by physicians in our network are Spanish-speaking Latinos, and that is reflected in our workforce in both patient and non-patient facing positions.  We recently hired two multi-lingual individuals who have both provider and patient-facing responsibilities to assist in supporting doctors from the South Asian community; our staff speaks Urdu, Bengali, Punjabi, and Hindi, the languages most widely spoken by patients in those practices.These staff members are key to facilitating collaboration within the South Asian communities and to further connect our local doctors to the greater community.

Say Ah!: What kind of health literacy training have you found to be effective and why? What have you tried that has not worked?

Migna: We like to use as many modes of communication as possible because people learn in different ways.  By offering learning opportunities in-person through workshops with applied practice, providing online resources to support learning, and hands-on-training, we find that people are better able to retain the information longer than just one-time activities.  By creating an online community, where Cultural Competency and Health Literacy issues can be raised via ticklers, videos, and animations, we will be able to more readily increase awareness and reinforce learning throughout the network.

Say Ah!: What have been your successes and challenges in establishing a “culture in which everyone works toward the unified goal of promoting successful communication.”

Migna: We train our doctors to use the “Teach Back” method in their clinical interactions to promote patient understanding.  We also train providers to encourage patients to ask questions. Through our direct patient interactions, we promote the “Ask Me 3” model for clear and concise communications.  This very week we are hosting remote trainings for our providers and practice staff on these tools and arming them with tool kits to enhance the patient experience within their practices.

About Migna Taveras
Migna focuses on improving communications between physicians and patients to promote understanding across ACP’s network of physicians, partners, and collaborators.  By promoting patient understanding, patients become empowered to learn healthy lifestyles which improves health and wellness; a fundamental key to transforming avoidable emergency room visits.

With 15 years of experience successfully managing and devising strategic public policy agendas and government affairs programs to produce positive results, Migna has served as an advisor to impactful leaders locally and nationally.  She has assisted in negotiating New York City’s $70-billion-dollar budget, managing appropriations programs for three NYC councilmembers, and generated over $20 million in revenues for the New York City Housing Authority including a small $50,000 multi-year grant from a private foundation to fund literacy programs in Harlem.

Migna currently serves as an adjunct professor in Health Education at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.  She is a Barnard graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Sociology, and a Masters in Advanced Management and Finance from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.


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