Monthly Archives: November 2013

MiniActive at the Shared Living in a Mixed City Conference

Excitement was in the air on November 21 at the Shared Living in a Mixed City conference, which was organized by the Jerusalem Foundation, the Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace, and the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. At the conferencem, we provided an overview of the amazing achievements and methodology of the Miniactive program in the session entitled, “Providing Service” – Municipal Services in Mixed Cities.” The session shed light on the tensions between ultra-Orthodox and non-ultra-Orthodox Jews in Beit Shemesh, the struggle for equal housing and education rights for Arabs in Jaffa, and on MiniActive project in East Jerusalem.

We started by describing what the project had done. Picture after picture of ‘before’ and ‘after’, a garbage receptacle, a traffic light, a safety barrier, a bus stop, water drainage. Everyday change taking place in almost every neighborhood. She then described the project’s methods of bombarding the 106 municipal hotline with requests and pictures, letters, etc.; of providing tours of different streets for municipal unit heads to see with their own eyes. Of organizing meetings between 106 workers and MiniActive volunteers, so they can learn the work process of the 106 hotline to make their work more effective.

From behind the words and pictures came the message – this is our house, and it’s time that we fight for it to be a pleasant place to live. And the Municipality and other service providers – it is their obligation to give us the services.

The description inspired everyone in the room. “Miniactive has brought about a huge change,” began Dr. Hagit Perez of the Department of Epidemiology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Chair of the session, and an activist in the south in her own right. “In these cases usually two groups are blamed: one, the victims usually blames themselves. How did they let themselves get into this situation? And the second to be blamed is the service provider, who doesn’t provide sufficient services. Here, Palestinian women have said, ‘Let’s solve our own problems. We can do anything, we have no limits. We, as mothers, want to make sure our children have a better future. We want to make the change not only I our own back yards, but make a change in in our whole community’s awareness.”

One audience member commented, “It’s truly inspiring how Palestinian women presented the program to us, what they’ve done and their accomplishments. She is such a change maker.”

A question from the audience was, “If this methodology was so successful, what about MiniActive in other groups, such as the Haredi public?” Well, we’re working on that, too…

Learning from a Model, Adapting to their Needs: Visit to the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya

It’s not easy being a Cultural Competency Coordinator. There are so many aspects that need to be dealt with it can seem overwhelming. It is exactly for that reason that we formed the Cultural Competency Coordinators’ Forum, so that they would not need to go it alone. Even more recently we formed an offshoot – a Forum for Cultural Competency Coordinators from Public Mental Health Institutions – since the field of mental health is drastically different than general health care. The 8-member forum includes representatives from all 7 public mental health institutions in Israel – from Acco to Beer Sheva to Jerusalem to Tel Aviv – and was formed on the heels of our networking / feedback session, before the Manual for Cultural Competency Coordinators was published. This forum meets monthly.

Members have already learned a great deal from one another. For example, the coordinator from Be’er Ya’akov heard about the medical interpreter’s course at Abarbanel, and the course is being implemented at Be’er Ya’akov. Similarly, the coordinator from Mizra heard about the workshops we did for the administration at the Jerusalem Center for Mental Health, and in January it will start workshops for its 50 administrative and managerial personnel.

On November 5, 2013 mental health forum had a special treat – a visit to the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya. Why Nahariya? The first few meetings of the Forum had included introductions, peer learning and setting goals for the group, and after that it decided that it was time to learn from the field. Nahariya is a model example of both administration and staff being committed to making its care culturally sensitive to all its patients, and using creative means to do so.

Touring the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya

Touring the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya

The Cultural Competency coordinators at Nahariya had participated in our first course for cultural competency coordinators in 2012, and have come a long way in a short time, thanks to the continued support of the management at all levels. We came to see how they did it, and how we can adapt their methods to mental health institutions.

The visit had 3 parts:

  1. A presentation on how the hospital led the Cultural Competency training sessions for its staff. It was very important to the administration that local hospital staff lead the training sessions. This showed seriousness on the part of the hospital and sent a message to the staff that ‘we value this enough to dedicate two staff members for in-house training and integration, who will be here to follow up and make sure that the principles are implemented.’ Because the training was performed by local staff, there was more motivation, there was no need to wait for the training, and more help was on hand in assimilating the principles.
  2. A tour of the hospital. Participants were taken to the hospital’s Muslim prayer room, one of only a handful in all Israeli hospitals, which was established in cooperation with the Ministry of Religious Services. They were also shown the hospital’s creative method of multi-lingual signage. The hospital had already had signage in Hebrew and English, but needed to add signs in Russian and Arabic, and did not want to spend the high cost of re-printing all the hospital’s signage. Its solution – printing the requisite signs on giant stickers that were stuck to the floor. What a novel idea!
  3. Participants were also shown the pilot of a telephone interpreting system, which is being funded by the Ministry of Health. They first learned how the telephone system works. It uses a special telephone with two handsets – one for the patient and one for the physician. Both are listening to the interpreter, who is on the other side of the line, in a call center. The idea is that eventually all health care institutions in Israel will be hooked up to this system, and will be able to use it all day, every day, without having to wait for an interpreter to be on call in the building.
An example of a dual-handset telephone for interpreting

An example of a dual-handset telephone for interpreting

The day ended with participants discussing their thoughts on the most important points, and how they can assimilate any of the ideas into their own institutions. One action item that arose was the need for a Cultural Competency Manual dedicated to the unique needs of mental health facilities. We will begin to write this manual at the next meeting, which is in the middle of December 2013.

Let’s Make Ourselves a Holiday: Multi-Cultural Holiday Information Sheets to Improve Cultural Competency

Hag Sigd Sameach. Yesterday, October 31, was the Sigd holiday, which is celebrated by the Ethiopian Jewish community. As part of our comprehensive support for cultural competency coordinators and health care providers in general, we prepared a special information sheet to help health care providers to give better care to their Ethiopian patients. It includes a short description of the holiday, special traditions that might affect patients on that day, and links to resources that can provide further information.

This isn’t the first time we’ve prepared these information sheets. We also prepared them for the Muslim holidays of Ramadan and Eid el-Fitr and Tisha b’Av, as noted above, and we’re going to continue to produce them for Eid el-Adha (Muslim), Passover and the 10th of Tevet (Jewish) and more. We’ve found that these information sheets have been immensely popular. They’ve been sent not only to our mailing lists, but we’ve found out that they’ve also been distributed throughout the different health insurance companies (Kupot Holim), and more.

In general, these information sheets offer comprehensive, concise overviews of the holidays, and cover particular issues that can affect patient care such as:

  • Special meals or foods related to the holiday;
  • Special fasts related to the holiday, and how it affects taking medication;
  • If there are conflicts regarding the taking of certain medications, who is the religious authority to turn to to discuss the issue;
  • Special daytime schedule during the holiday – more prayers or family visits, and more.

We work very closely with different organizations to ensure that important points are not missed, and that they are presented in a respectful, informative manner. For example, for Eid el-Fitr we consulted with the Al-Taj organization, which seeks to advance awareness of health issues in the Arabic-speaking population. We consulted with Rabbi Moshe Peleg of Sha’are Zedek Hospital for the Fast of the 10th of Tevet information sheet. For help on the Sigd information sheet, we consulted with the Tene Briut organization, which seeks to advance health care among Ethiopian immigrants in Israel.

When we are all finished we’ll have an entire year’s worth of holiday information sheets – an incredibly valuable resource for cultural competency coordinators and anyone who works in Israel’s multicultural health care system.