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'The Business of Health Care Report'

The Tongan Initiative: Demonstrating Compassion and Culturally Competent Care

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I’m Doug Hawthorne, president and CEO of Texas Health Resources, with “The Business of Health Care Report.”

THR hospitals are committed to providing care that is considerate of patients’ cultural and spiritual needs. One of our community benefit programs is the Tongan Initiative at Harris Methodist H·E·B Hospital. About 4,000 people from the South Pacific island of Tonga live in the Euless area.

In 2001, physicians on the medical staff at the hospital noted that many Tongans were coming to the emergency room with end-stage diseases that could have been prevented by early diagnosis, treatment and lifestyle changes.

We partnered with a local non-profit to conduct a health needs assessment of the local Tongan population. Forty percent of participants reported untreated health issues including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Many Tongans had never received important health screenings, and many did not know how to access care or obtain insurance.

We identified and trained a group of Tongan volunteers to help develop a program to bring health services to their community. We coordinated with nine local churches and began offering screenings, wellness education and immunizations.

The project has proved very successful in improving the health of the community. It is a testament to the spirit of collaboration in the Mid-Cities and to the cultural competence of physicians on the medical staff, together with hospital employees, at Harris Methodist H·E·B Hospital.

For Texas Health Resources and its faith-based hospitals – Harris Methodist, Presbyterian and Arlington Memorial – I’m Doug Hawthorne.

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