Chair Files

Champions for Culturally Competent Care

Diversity has become a core value at U.S. hospitals. Meridian Health, a not-for-profit health care organization in New Jersey, displays its diversity statement, central to mission and vision, at its six hospitals as well as its nursing and rehabilitation centers and outpatient centers—and backs up the statement with action. At Meridian, 17 percent of patients are from racially and ethnically diverse groups. The health care organization emphasizes providing care that is congruent to each patient’s cultural background, to translate into positive patient outcomes. Meridian has developed a program with cultural ambassadors—nurses who champion cultural best practices and protocols. This program is designed to build positive relationships between nurses and patients, and to increase sensitivity and awareness of cultural nuances associated with the decision-making process and health care preferences of patients. Cultural ambassadors serve as “go-to” staff for each Meridian nursing unit, offering resources and answering questions on providing culturally appropriate care. These nurses also help to identify challenging cultural issues to discuss in quarterly workshops. Workshop topics have included caring for various patient populations, including Muslim patients, observant Jewish patients and transgender older adults; understanding the health concerns of African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Asian-Indians and other racial and ethnic groups; and communicating effectively with deaf patients. Meridian’s cultural competency initiatives also have improved intercultural communication between employees.

For more information, contact Wayne M. Boatwright, vice president, cultural diversity, at, or Darryl Hughes, manager, cultural diversity, at To read the complete case study, visit the Equity of Care website. has additional case studies and information on health care equity and other topics from AHA resources and other groups.


Additional Resources

Webinars December 13th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 2: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 20th, 2017

Equity of Care Webinar SeriesPart 1: Aligning Diversity and Inclusion, Community Engagement, Busi......

Webinars November 17th, 2017

Transportation and the Role of Hospitals This AHA webinar on “Transportation and the Role of Hos......