Culturally competent whole person care is critical in work to reduce health inequities. The standard of care for underserved communities is not enough, treating the whole patient is crucial, in cooperation with existing care. We at Patient Empowerment Network are dedicated to working toward equitable healthcare for all, and our Rx for Community Wellness program has provided another opportunity. Here’s a look at the program, links to content and highlights from panelists and participants. PEN is grateful to our partners Triage Cancer, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), CancerGrace and American Urological Association (AUA) for helping to raise awareness of this program.
Importance of Whole Person Care
Whole person care is the patient-centered optimal use of diverse healthcare resources to deliver the physical, behavioral, emotional, and social services required to improve care coordination, well-being, and health outcomes. Whole person care is critical for improving health outcomes because human wellness depends on coordination of multi-dimensional, multi-systemic care. For people with cancer, social, emotional, economic, and environmental conditions impact their health.
Rx for Community Wellness focuses on conversations between at-risk populations and key health experts resulting in crowdsourced information that can help empower diverse communities and their providers. This information can also help motivate health leaders to understand issues that exist and to push for solutions to overcome them.
Whole Person Care Resources
The Rx for Community Wellness program focuses on moving toward culturally competent whole person healthcare. Content for this program was crowdsourced from real-life experiences that provided a way for underserved patients and community partners to share their experience with whole patient care, both positive and negative with the healthcare system. In an effort to create models for culturally competent whole person care, the learning resource includes meditation and nutrition tools. These tools were created to help empower patients in optimizing their well-being and supporting them in having the best possible cancer treatment outcomes.
The Rx for Community Wellness programs have covered the following topics:
- Equity Rx, Cancer Care for the Whole Patient
- Why Is It Important to Address Whole Person Care?
- What Is the Importance of Culturally Competent Care?
- How Can Cultural Competency Play a Role in Your Care?
- How Does Stress Correlate to Our Physical Ailments?
- Advice from a Cancer Survivor for Better Whole Person Care
- How Can Healthcare Systems Better Approach Whole Person Care?
Wellness Rx Meditative and Nutritional Tools include the following resources:
- Benefits of Plant-Based Diets
- Abdominal Breath Meditation
- Benefits of Carbohydrates
- Benefits of Protein
A crowdsourced resource is also available:
Rx for Community Wellness Program Highlights
The Rx for Community Wellness program has generated a wealth of information for patients and healthcare providers alike. The information has informed others about inequitable healthcare experiences while also serving to educate and empower patients with whole person care resources.
Aswita Tan-McGrory shared about how pediatric medicine has provided a roadmap to improve adult whole person care. According to Tan-McGrory, “…they definitely have cornered that market of really thinking of social determinants of health or the whole system for their pediatric patients in a way that I think adult medicine is just catching up on…because you’re working with kids, you can’t not talk to the parents, not think about what is the school like…so you’re forced to because of that environment, but that’s really a model that we should be using for all of our patients.”
Dr. Broderick Rodell, a naturopathic doctor and wellness expert, shared advice that he’s found helpful in maintaining his own health and wellness. According to Dr. Rodell, “I do spend a large amount of time focusing on training the mind, reducing stress, educating yourself around, what can I do to eat well, nutrition, what can I do to exercise? To get my body moving, what are the various things that I can do to care for myself to the best of my abilities…”
Mexican American patient Sasha Tanori shared about her experience with inequitable healthcare. According to Sasha, “…where I come from, it’s a very like low demographic, we don’t have a whole lot of resources and stuff like that. So getting care is…it’s not the easiest. I’ve had to go to several doctors before I even got diagnosed…I had to be sent to San Diego because they had no idea what was going on. They were like, ‘We don’t know what’s wrong with you. Go home.’ They kept giving me misdiagnosis after misdiagnosis, and especially with being a plus-sized Mexican American, they were just like, ‘Oh, if you lose a couple of pounds, you’ll be fine.’”
Dr. Nicole Rochester shared information about one of the impacts of stress on health. According to Dr. Rochester, “…there’s a study specifically looking at prostate cancer by Dr. Burnham, a researcher, and what they found in this study is that they looked at prostate cancer cells from African American patients and white patients. And when they treated these cells with stress hormones, they saw that the Black patient’s prostate cells would begin to up-regulate the genes and the proteins that are known to make that cancer more resistant to therapy.”
Dr. Rodell shared his opinion about the U.S. healthcare system and advice for patient advocates, “…if you’re not spending enough time with patients and you’re not communicating with other practitioners that are working with these patients, then you’re not going to have a very good idea of what’s going on in this patient’s life and what could be contributing to their illness. So, therefore, it’s incumbent upon the patient, we as individuals, to try to learn as much as we can and try to get our communities involved to help create educational programs to facilitate that education and that awareness.”
Some program participants provided valuable testimonials about the Rx for Community Wellness programs.
‘I will make more of an effort to get my team members to read information that has been shared on my tests and progress.” –
“My hematologist is pretty responsive, but I don’t have a holistic doctor, and I’d like to get one. This program definitely raised my awareness of equity issues. Sasha was great explaining her issues. Thank you!”
“THANK YOU for the amazing panel you put together and the moderator (wow!) Perfect representatives from 4 angles/roles = complete and powerful picture/movie.”
How to Take Action for Community Wellness
Valuable advice has emerged from the Rx for Community Wellness program. Anyone with a desire to help can take action to improve care for underserved communities. Some recommended actions toward equitable care include:
- Educate yourself as a patient to work toward better health and wellness. Take advantage of the Rx for Community Wellness resources to help yourself and others who may be struggling with their health.
- Healthcare providers can read patient experiences to gain an understanding of their points of view and try to do more active listening to make their patients feel heard.
- Take action to ensure you use wellness practices like exercise, healthy eating, and exercise to decrease stress levels and to maintain a healthy body, mind, and spirit.
- Use the crowdsourced solutions in the Equity Rx Crowdsourced Resource to learn patient and patient advocate suggestions for more equitable healthcare.
- If you have an experience to share of when you experienced a health disparity, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what future topics you’d like us to cover.