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Hospital Works to Bridge Cultural Barriers (LAT)

Posted on 03 May 2011 by admin (0)
A new garden at Hoag Hospital in Irvine follows feng shui principles. (Don Leach, Daily Pilot)

A new garden at Hoag Hospital in Irvine follows feng shui principles. (Don Leach, Daily Pilot)

Los Angeles Times

The nurse just thought she was bringing a refreshing dessert — a Popsicle — to a new mother. She didn’t expect the grandmother, shocked, to stop her and intercept the treat.

The cold was taboo for Shu-Fen Chen.

After emigrating from Taiwan, Chen gave birth to her first child in a Los Angeles hospital. Her cultural beliefs say a new mother shouldn’t touch anything cold for a month after birth, or she will suffer headaches later in life, she says.
Eventually, Chen moved to Irvine, home to one of the largest Chinese American populations in the nation and once home to Irvine Regional Hospital, where she had her second child. There, the nurse knew better.

“So many traditions people cannot believe,” said Chen, executive director of the South Coast Chinese Cultural Assn. in Irvine. “But some nurses just understand our culture.”

When Hoag Hospital opened its Irvine campus recently, replacing Irvine Regional, administrators hoped they had done enough to understand Irvine residents’ cultural beliefs, traditions and language.

Since the 1950s, Hoag has served mostly white and increasingly Latino patients at its Newport Beach location. Now, the hospital is stepping into a community that is nearly 40% Asian and has a large Iranian population.

Hoag has made a number of special preparations for these patients. They include creating patient rooms arranged according to the principles of feng-shui and to serving steamed rice for breakfast, and less-tangible gestures such as respectfully presenting documents with two hands and speaking to patients with more formality.

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