Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center honors winners of Latino/Hispanic Achievement Award

BOSTON - Ines de la Cruz, an 11-year employee of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), Leonor Fernandez, MD at the hospital for 10 years, and Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD who joined BIDMC more than 13 years ago, are the winners of BIDMC's inaugural Latino Achievement Award.

IN THE PICTURE: BIDMC 2010 Latino/Hispanic Achievement Award winners, Leonor Fernandez, MD; Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD; and Ines de la Cruz

The awards, presented on October 7th, marked the culmination of the Medical Center's celebration of Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month honoring BIDMC employees who have made significant contributions to advance exceptional care for the Latino/Hispanic community.

"I am proud to call Ines my friend and co-worker. I find her the most valuable member of the communications team, not only as the glue that holds us together but as a liaison to the Latino community," said Jerry Berger, Media Relations Director.

As the Administrative Coordinator for the Communications Department, Ines de la Cruz helps shape the medical center's messaging to the Spanish-speaking communities served by BIDMC. Her perspective in tailoring marketing and media outreach is invaluable in ensuring that the Medical Center's communications are on-target and relevant in promoting health for its Latino patients, families and visitors.

Born in the U.S., de la Cruz was raised for much of the first four years of her life by relatives in her parents' native Dominican Republic. At age five, reunited with her parents in Boston, de la Cruz quickly learned English in Kindergarten, but at home, her mother insisted on Spanish only. "It was really important to my mom that we stay true to our language and connected to our culture," said de la Cruz remembering the Spanish lessons she and her brother received at home after school.

Fluent in English and Spanish, de la Cruz was asked to contribute to the development of BIDMC's Tu Salud (Spanish Language) website and is prominently featured in the Ser Saludable Es (Healthy Is) Campaign. She also lends her voice helping to administer the Red Sox Scholars program, a major BIDMC-Red Sox community initiative that matches medical and administrative "champions" with students in the Boston Public Schools. In this role she helps arrange for hospital-based events bringing students and their mentors together for in-hospital learning events.

De la Cruz's passion for language continues outside BIDMC in Boston's theatre community where she sits on the Board of Directors and is an ensemble member of Escena Latina, a Spanish language theater company. Escena Latina is dedicated to producing affordable, quality theatre in Spanish and bringing productions to schools and universities as a teaching tool for students learning Spanish language and culture.

With expertise in immigrant health, Leonor Fernandez, MD, was recruited by BIDMC to meet the needs of the Medical Center's growing base of Latino patients. She is a beloved primary care physician at Healthcare Associates who has also become an educational leader on cross-culture care.

A Princeton graduate, Fernandez did her medical training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. She completed her Internal Medicine training at Boston City Hospital, where she co-founded the Latino Clinic. Since then much of Fernandez's work has focused on reducing disparities in healthcare outcomes.

Among her accomplishments are the innovative multi-year curriculum in Cultural Competence for the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program and the 3-day Harvard CME course offered in April 2009, titled "Ge