MGH Hotline 08.07.09 The sign in the lobby of the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center says “welcome” in many different languages. Such a gesture is not unusual there, because the MGH Chelsea staff are particularly sensitive to the remarkable diversity that characterizes the Chelsea community, home to thousands of immigrant and refugee families from across the globe.

Bridging the Gap

MGH Chelsea program pairs immigrant families with medical students

07/Aug/2009

A FRIENDLY CHECK-UP: Lee, right, spends time with Muktar Mohamed, a member of his Bridging the Gap family.

The sign in the lobby of the MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center says "welcome" in many different languages. Such a gesture is not unusual there, because the MGH Chelsea staff are particularly sensitive to the remarkable diversity that characterizes the Chelsea community, home to thousands of immigrant and refugee families from across the globe. Often these families face an array of challenges in the United States. Language and cultural barriers can make seemingly simple tasks, such as making a medical appointment, complex undertakings.

Students learn about the challenges of caring for underserved patient populations as well as the importance of providing culturally competent health care. They meet monthly with staff from MGH Chelsea and a faculty member from their schools to discuss understanding and responding to the families' needs. Several times a year, students and families come together for special events such as cultural celebrations.

"I am hard-pressed to think of anything as rewarding as my Somali family's enthusiasm and gratefulness every time I make a home visit or phone call. It’s a privilege to know and work with them."