Think Cultural Health News

Advancing Health Equity at Every Point of Contact

June 2014

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Greetings from the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care (CLCCHC) at the HHS Office of Minority Health!

Welcome to the National CLAS Standards special anniversary edition of Think Cultural Health News. In April, we celebrated the one-year anniversary of the release of the enhanced National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) in Health and Health Care.

We held numerous activities to mark this exciting milestone, including the following:

  • We published a National CLAS Standards anniversary page on the Think Cultural Health website, which included a number of National CLAS Standards related items, such as infographics; a video of the April 24, 2013 press conference; and much more!
  • We launched our latest e-learning program, the "Cultural Competency Program for Oral Health Professionals," which is the first to include the enhanced National CLAS Standards.
  • We invited our amazing CLAS National Project Advisory Committee members to serve as contributors to this special edition of Think Cultural Health News!

We encourage you to share the infographics, register for our "Cultural Competency Program for Oral Health Professionals," and enjoy (and forward) this edition of Think Cultural Health News!

As always, thank you for your dedication to advancing health equity!

How to Comply with Standard 7: Healthcare Interpreters Certification

Contributed by Mara Youdelman, National CLAS Standards NPAC member and CCHI Commissioner and Natalya Mytareva, CCHI Managing Director

Standard 7 of the National CLAS Standards recognizes the importance of ensuring the competence of individuals providing language assistance. The Blueprint further clarifies that an interpreter must be assessed to determine his or her competence. The Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) provides valid, credible tools, developed following the accreditation standards of the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), for assessing an interpreter’s competence. CCHI administers two national certifications.

The first certification - Core Certification Healthcare Interpreter™ (CoreCHI™) - allows all hospitals and healthcare providers to show compliance with CLAS Standard 7. This certification involves testing interpreters on their core professional knowledge as well as critical thinking, ethical decision-making, and cultural responsiveness skills needed to perform the interpreter’s duties in a healthcare setting. This examination is available year-round and is delivered online in a secure test center environment in all 50 states and in Canada.

The Certified Healthcare Interpreter™ (CHI™) examination provides a language-specific assessment of the interpreter's performance skills. This specialty level of certification is currently available for Arabic, Spanish, and Mandarin interpreters.

Over 1,300 interpreters nationwide have obtained CCHI’s certification since 2011. Employers can verify an interpreter's certification status at the National Healthcare Interpreter Registry at

Many hospitals have already demonstrated their commitment to implementing National CLAS Standard 7 by either requiring CCHI certification of their interpreters or reimbursing the certification costs. Among such hospitals are Banner Health (AZ), Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CA), Cleveland Clinic (OH), Rush University Medical Center (IL), and Spectrum Health (MI). Employing competent interpreters will improve patient-provider communication and, ultimately, advance health equity for our nation’s diverse communities.

Learn more about CCHI by visiting their website.

Collaborating on CLAS: A Roadmap and a Crosswalk

Contributed by Lynne Bergero, National CLAS Standards NPAC member and Dr. Christina Cordero, National CLAS Standards Collaborator, both of the Joint Commission

The Joint Commission and the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) share the aim of advancing health equity, effective communication, cultural and linguistic competence, and high quality care, in general. Together, the Joint Commission and the OMH have worked to assist health care organizations in their provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate services.

The Joint Commission recently updated their Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals monograph to reflect the enhanced National CLAS Standards (NCS). Other updates include:

  • Links to Joint Commission projects and reports have been updated.
  • Additional resources have been included in Appendix E.
  • Appendix C has been revised to update the standards language.

In addition, The Joint Commission and Think Cultural Health are collaborating on the development of a crosswalk, which will allow organizations to easily identify the similarities between the National CLAS Standards and the accreditation standards for The Joint Commission.

The crosswalk will be published both on The Joint Commission website and on Think Cultural Health here.

Teaching Medical Students about Civil Rights

Contributed by our National CLAS Standards collaborators at the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services

HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is collaborating with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) to introduce 960 aspiring medical and dental school students to their obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 once they become doctors and dentists. Through this collaboration, OCR staff will give 12 presentations this summer to college students studying medicine and dentistry at university campuses across the country. These presentations will take place from June 2014-August 2014 and are through a program implemented by OCR and AAMC called the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP). SMDEP presentations will focus on racial and ethnic health disparities, cultural competency in medicine, compliance with Title VI, and other guidance relevant to the National CLAS Standards. OCR and AAMC plan on providing SMDEP presentations to students on a yearly basis.

OCR and AAMC's collaboration to implement the SMDEP is part of the Medical School Curriculum (MSC), an initiative launched in 2007 to promote the inclusion of Title VI guidance into medical school education. Through this initiative, the AAMC initially posted the MSC information on their website portal, MedEDPORTAL, the leading web-based tool that facilitates the exchange of high-quality, peer reviewed educational materials to medical schools nationwide. Because of widespread interest in the MSC, OCR re-engaged the support of the AAMC to expand the MSC to new audiences by establishing a new partnership that will include two primary activities to sustain the initiative: (1) conduct joint webinars marketing the curriculum to the AAMC’s network of schools of medicine, medical students, faculty, and administration officials, and (2) the SMDEP presentations.

NPAC in the News

Here are some highlights of our National Project Advisory Committee (NPAC) members, who serve as subject matter experts and advise Think Cultural Health initiatives:

  • National CLAS Standards NPAC member, Wilma Alvarado-Little presented "Addressing Health Concerns within the Latina Community" at the Latino/Hispanic Health Equity Initiative Statewide Symposium: Achieving Health Equity Through Education, Collaboration and Action on May 16, 2014
  • National CLAS Standards NPAC members, Robert C. Like and Frederick D. Hobby, in collaboration with Edward L. Martinez, published two important articles in Hospitals and Health Networks Daily:
  • National CLAS Standards NPAC member, Robert C. Like recently spoke at the National Partnership for Action to End Health Disparities' Regional Health Equity Council meeting. He presented "Fostering Health Equity through Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Service Delivery: A Call to Action." His presentation is available on the RHEC website.
  • The HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Senior Health Policy Researcher and National CLAS Standards NPAC member, Cindy Brach published an article in the inaugural issue of the Patient Experience Journal, entitled, "A daughter's frustration with the dearth of patient- and family-centered care".

Upcoming Events

The Think Cultural Health project team and a number of National CLAS Standards NPAC members will be attending, hosting, or presenting at a variety of events this summer, including the following:

  • Transforming Medical Education, Policy and Practice to Achieve Health Equity Conference
    June 5-6, 2014
    Newark, New Jersey
    For more information on the event, visit the Rutgers website.
  • National Leadership and Education Conference
    Theme: Equity: Moving Beyond Diversity
    June 12-13, 2014
    Chicago, Illinois
    For more information on the event, visit the Institute for Diversity website.
  • American Dental Hygienists Association Annual Conference
    June 20, 2014
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    For more information on the event, visit the ADHA website.
  • Institute for Diversity: Diversity Dialogue Webinar
    Your LGBT Patients and Employees: The Challenges They Face - And How You Can Help
    Thursday, June 26, 2014
    10:00 a.m. PT, 11:00 a.m. MT, 12:00 p.m. CT, 1:00 p.m. ET
    For more information on the event, visit the Institute for Diversity website.
  • Louisiana Primary Care Association: Medical Conference 2014
    Theme: Providing Communities with Healthcare Access
    June 27-28, 2014
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    For more information on the event, visit the LPCA website.
  • National Dental Association
    July 25-29, 2014
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    For more information on the event, visit the NDA website.

Do you have an event you would like to share with the TCH team and other members of the CLCCHC community? Submit the event to our Community Calendar.