Diversity Woman Magazine

FALL 2013

Leadership and Executive Development for women of all races, cultures and backgrounds

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We Mean Business > Ronald Copeland A Healthy Culture As diversity offcer at health-care giant Kaiser Permanente, this surgeon looks well below the skin for what makes patients different. By Katrina Brown Hunt hen healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente (KP) frst started treating patients in the Mojave Desert, during the 1930s, those folks were a fairly homogeneous group, at least in one sense: they were all blue-collar workers. "California was already highly diverse," says Ronald Copeland, senior vice president, National Diversity Strategy and Policy, and chief diversity ofcer. "Ten it became even more diverse [in the 1940s and 1950s] as more African Americans came west to work in the shipyards. Kaiser has dealt with diverse communities—related to culture, ethnicity, gender, language, and belief systems—for 70 years now. So diversity is not a new challenge for us." Today, Kaiser PermaMen at nente treats roughly 9 million patients in nine states and Washington, DC, and works to serve the ever-diversifying population on both sides of the medical chart. Te company has programs like Culturally Competent Care to address the needs of diferent patient populations, as well across the United States, his own road into medicine, and how diversity is a lot more than skin-deep. W di ve rs i tywoman. com as health-care internships for underrepresented college students; education and job training for developmentally disabled students; and dozens of multicultural employee business resource groups. KP's Latino Association in Northern California was just named one of the top fve employee resource groups in the naWork tion by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Diversity Woman spoke with Copeland, who originally joined Kaiser as a surgeon before becoming the head of the Ohio Permanente Medical Group and then serving on Kaiser's National Diversity Council. He refects on how health-care challenges vary Diversity Woman: One Kaiser diversity program for staffers is called Cultural Competency. What does that mean, beyond addressing language barriers with patients? Ronald Copeland: It has as much to do with appreciating and understanding patients' identities, beliefs, and sexual orientation as it does language: how does that defne who they are, how do they defne healthy behavior, and how do they want to engage with each provider? To understand, value, and navigate diference, rather than homogenize it, it is necessary to build patient trust in both the practitioner and the system. So whether it's a physician or care team members being competent to communicate with patients in multiple languages, we make an investment. For example, we use telephone transmission lines for people who are not bilingual. We also have real-time translation pilots going on, where doctors and patients have virtual translators on a video screen that can hear and translate immediately when the patient is in the room. DW: What had you learned about diversity before you came to this position? Where does the system break down for folks? RC: In my last position, I had looked at our quality outcome data to see if we Fa ll 2 0 1 3 DI VE R S IT Y WO MAN 39

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