At a Decade: Centers of Excellence in Culturally Competent Care

At a Decade: Centers of Excellence in Culturally Competent Care


Melanie Tervalon, MD, MPH

Winter 2009 - Volume 13 Number 1


The rapidly increasing racial and ethnic diversity among Kaiser Permanente (KP) membership mirrors the demographic changes across the nation (Lynette DeSantis, personal communication, 2008 Nov).a This diversity calls for interventions that are culturally specific to improve patients' health outcomes and to eliminate health disparities (see Kaiser Permanente Diversity Demographics).
This need is unequivocally demonstrated by scientific evidence that shows differential disease prevalence between population groups.1-5 The impact of disparities and the human story is repeatedly told:3-5 in the reports that prompted the creation, in 1999, of The Office of Research on Minority Health and, in 2000, the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services Standards (CLAS);6 in the Institute of Medicine's 2002 report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care;3 and in the Annual 2007 National Healthcare Disparities Report (NHDR) by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.4 Despite these significant efforts, disparities have not been reduced since the first NHDR in 2003.4

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