NWH, Neighbors Link, Mt. Kisco Police Dept. Share Commitment to Cultural Competence
Community Organizations Work Together to Ensure Cultural Sensitivity
Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH), in cooperation with Neighbors Link and the Mount Kisco Police Department, has developed a cultural sensitivity training program entitled Building Cultural Competence: A Community-Wide Initiative.
The training is designed to help achieve the complementary mission of each group and to increase cultural awareness in order to build positive relations with immigrant communities.
Carola Otero Bracco, Executive Director of Neighbors Link and a member of Northern Westchester Hospital’s Board of Trustees, along with PACT (Police and Community Together) have been spearheading these efforts. The mission of Neighbors Link is to strengthen the whole community by actively enhancing the healthy integration of immigrants. The mission of PACT, created by Mount Kisco Police Officer Edwin Ramirez and Carola Bracco, is to encourage communication and trust between local law enforcement and the immigrant community. PACT is funded, in part, by a grant from the Elias Foundation. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 4,000 immigrants live in Mt. Kisco. “It is the unexplained cultural differences that can cause tension. These types of initiatives help to ease any tensions that may arise between police and immigrant communities,” stated Ms. Bracco.
Neighbors Link and Ms. Bracco were responsible for bringing Northern Westchester Hospital into the fold. NWH has donated their Cultural Competency course, which was modified for this program through a review process involving officers and members of the immigrant community. The Hospital is also donating the instructors’ time. “Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) has conducted cultural competency training for all staff members since 2006. We are pleased that Neighbors Link invited us to be part of this community collaboration. Programs such as these enable information sharing and discussion and contribute to better relationships with the immigrant communities we all serve,” shared Kerry Flynn-Barrett, VP Human Resources at Northern Westchester Hospital who is also a course instructor.
The first educational training session was conducted on April 11th at the Mt. Kisco Police Department and was extremely well-received. Maria Simonetti, head of Community Health Education & Outreach for Northern Westchester Hospital had a hand in developing the course and serves as one of the instructors. Ms. Simonetti believes that one of the reasons this program is a success is “because all of our organizations have a commitment to cultural competence and a shared vision to support a safe and healthy community.” Ms. Simonetti also conducts cultural competency training for NWH employees.
Lieutenant Patrick O’Reilly of the Mt. Kisco Police Department stated, “This program is an impressive show of collaboration between community organizations. We are pleased to be part of such an endeavor.”
The Department of Public Safety of Westchester County Police, which is responsible for in-service training for 400 County Police Officers and those from several towns, has inquired about the programing in an attempt to offer standardized training.
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