A closer look at Community Health Services: Program for Multicultural Health

July 28, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

The Program for Multicultural Health (PMCH), which is part of Community Health Services at Michigan Medicine, works to improve the overall health and well-being of diverse populations.

Working with community partners, PMCH provides culturally responsive health promotion, education, training, and research and advocates for equitable health care for patients and their families at Michigan Medicine. Its primary goal is to ensure that everyone can achieve optimal health regardless of their social or cultural background.

Why understanding culture and health matters

Culture is an integrated pattern of human behavior that includes thoughts, languages, communications, practices, beliefs and values common to a group of people and is constantly changing. PMCH recognizes the vast influence culture has on perceptions of illness, health-seeking behaviors, and health care services and advocates for care and services that are respectful and responsive to cultural needs.

What PMCH does:

  • PMCH staff recognizes and exercises the power of partnerships. Through various community and organizational partnerships, PMCH develops health promotion initiatives that help enhance the knowledge and skills of community members to make informed and healthy choices.
  • PMCH provides consultations (e.g., program development or grant funding resources) to community organizations, health programs and others in ways that enhance clients’ ability to serve and support diverse communities. In FY20, PMCH conducted 131 consultations.
  • PMCH conducts public health research with community and academic partners to increase understanding of community and population health needs and inform public health interventions.
  • PMCH designs and leads education and training for students, health professionals and academic service providers to ensure health services are respectful and responsive to the diverse needs of patients and their families.

Making an impact

Here is a story about one PMCH program:

“One elder gentleman (at a Health Café’ session) arrived, indicating he’d attended one of our previous sessions (on managing diabetes and hypertension) and emphatically asked, “I know what I cannot eat, but what can (his emphasis) I eat to help my blood pressure?” PMCH dietetic intern Molly Carter (who shared this story) sat down under the tent, and began a friendly, engaging dialogue with this resident on multiple strategies he might try. Molly later reported that he was very receptive, often laughing with her, to some suggestions (but not all) and she shared details from her dialogue with this resident:

“We talked about reducing foods high in sodium and increasing foods high in potassium, and …sneaky foods that contain sodium, and how sometimes simply eliminating the practice of salting your food isn’t enough.”

Empower U is an initiative of the Program of Multicultural Health, a program of Community Health Services, that helps youth build knowledge and skills in ways to help them succeed. Check out this video to learn more.

Here are a few quotes from those impacted by PMCH:

“Empower U helps me get my work done and get my GPA up…it gives me guided time during the day to work on myself.” – Empower U participant

“Thank you again for giving me hope, and giving me the inspiration to continue to make an impact for our communities. Everything you all taught me, I continue to bring it back here…You all are great mentors, and as a humble student I am grateful to have you in my life.” – FPHLP intern