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Methodist Healthcare facilities become the first and only hospitals in the United States to receive Hispanic healthcare designation
August 20, 2007

SAN ANTONIO, TX

The Diversity Health Care Program of Mexico today accredited Methodist Healthcare facilities as Hispanic Healthcare Hospitals, making them the first and only hospitals in the United States to receive this distinction.

The accreditation recognizes the efforts of Methodist Healthcare to make health care accessible to international and Spanish-speaking patients by removing cultural barriers.
Dr. Enrique Ruelas Barajas, secretary of the Counsel on General Health Care in Mexico, announced the designation in ceremonies attended by area business and community leaders.

“Designation as Hispanic Healthcare Hospitals means that Methodist Healthcare is poised to better meet the needs of our local and regional Hispanic population and to enhance the service level for the growing international patient population,” said Jaime Wesolowski, president and CEO, Methodist Healthcare.  “This diversity accreditation, which we must seek annually, requires a commitment to continuous improvement.  Our challenge is not only to address the language and cultural needs of the Hispanic population, but also to focus on the needs of a multi-cultural patient population.  Our goal is to proactively ensure continuous improvement in the delivery of quality, affordable, accessible health care to this patient base.”

Methodist Healthcare is the only health care system in the region with a dedicated International Services department to assist patients, physicians and staff in accessing healthcare services. Methodist Healthcare has offered international services for more than 14 years, and last year alone the staff assisted more than 1,000 patients in receiving the health care that they needed.

As the area’s largest and most preferred health care provider, Methodist Healthcare serves San Antonio and 26 surrounding counties in Central and South Texas, as well as a rapidly growing number of international patients. With San Antonio’s geographic proximity to Mexico and its role as a regional referral center for hospitals throughout South Central Texas, Methodist Healthcare serves the needs of a large Hispanic population.

Hospitals across the United States are becoming more aware of the needs of a diverse patient population.  Diversity certification focuses on improving patient access in a multi-cultural society while eliminating potential language and cultural barriers.  To receive the designation, Methodist Healthcare has made a commitment to several components, including the upgrading of signage in Spanish and international symbols, patient access to interpretation services, and continued availability of International Services staff to assist other staff, physicians and patients.  In addition, hospital materials in Spanish will be more widespread, including legal documents, consent forms, patient rights materials, discharge instructions, patient education brochures, and waiting area publications.

Methodist Healthcare has been a pioneer in the development of health care services for international patients and also has been instrumental in facilitating the exchange of information between medical professionals in the United States and in Mexico.  Few health care systems in the U.S. have been as successful as Methodist in building mutually beneficial agreements and alliances with another country.

International Services at Methodist Healthcare assists out-of-country patients and their families by coordinating arrangements for a patient’s visit even before the patient leaves their home.  Services include assistance in scheduling physician appointments, interpreting medical records, arranging travel and accommodations and coordinating transportation needs.  International Services also assists with emergency medical transfers.

Methodist Healthcare is San Antonio’s largest and most trusted health care provider with facilities including seven acute care hospitals: Methodist Children’s Hospital of South Texas*, Methodist Hospital, Methodist Heart Hospital*, Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital,* Northeast Methodist Hospital,* Metropolitan Methodist Hospital* and Methodist Ambulatory Surgery Hospital.  New construction projects include the Methodist Boerne Emergency Center, set to open in late 2007, and  Methodist Stone Oak Hospital, anticipated to open in 2008.

For more information on the Hispanic Healthcare Hospitals designation, visit the Methodist Healthcare Web site, www.SAHealth.com

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