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.
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 "Getting to Equal: Strategies to Improve Care for all Patients."
Fernandez is also a member of the Society of General Internal Medicine's (SGIM) Disparities Task Force and has lead two courses for national audiences: "Immigrant Health Care: Care of Patients New to this Country" and "Train the Trainer: Teaching about Disparities." She has helped train several Latino internal medicine residents, and is an advocate to the intern selection committee for minority candidates.
As respected as she is for her work in teaching professionals, Dr. Fernandez is also a passionate and effective educator for the Latino community. Her numerous appearances on local Spanish-speaking TV and radio stations as well as her participation in health fairs attest to her success in clearly communicating information about a variety of health concerns and her ability to frame educational messages in a culturally-responsive way.
As a world-leading neurologist and neuroscientist, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD is an ambassador of Latino creativity and achievements and is committed to the support and development of Latino doctors and medical staff. For several years, in his role as Chair of the Minority Subcommittee of the Center for Faculty Development, Dr. Pascual-Leone actively supported the recruitment of Latino physicians to BIDMC and played a leading role in developing BIDMC's recruitment guidelines that ensure that minority candidates are recognized and encouraged.
Born in Valencia, Spain, Pascual-Leone attended Medical School and completed a PhD in Neurophysiology at the University of Valencia and the Albert-Ludwigs University Medical School in Freiburg, Germany. He joined BIDMC in 1997 as a staff neurologist and Director of the Medical Center's Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation where his research into a therapy called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has helped hundreds of patients struggling with medically untreatable depression, as well as helping stroke patients who have lost the ability to speak, patients plagued with chronic pain, and patients with other neurological diseases such as Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.
Pascual-Leone has also trained more than 200 investigators in this specialized therapy, who now run TMS labs in medical centers throughout the U.S. and the world. In particular, he has helped nurture and develop the careers of Latino neurologists and psychiatrists, who have gone back to Chile, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, Costa Rica and Brazil to set up research institutes and clinics which offer patients this novel brain therapy.
Pascual-Leone is equally as dedicated to the Latino population in his role as Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. A respected and sought-after mentor to students and medical trainees, Dr. Pascual-Leone is particularly attuned to the needs of minority students. He was recognized with a mentoring award from the National Institutes of Health as well as the Daniel Federman Award from Harvard Medical School.
The Latino Achievement Awards are part of a BIDMC wide celebration of Latino/Hispanic Heritage Month. Throughout the month employees were invited to participate in Salsa y Salsa, Latin inspired dance lessons; a healthy snack collection to support Sociedad Latina's Mission Possible! College Access program; El Planeta's Salud y Familia event featuring family attractions, health information and dancing; and the Sobremesa Mental Health Networking luncheon featuring keynote speaker, Amaro Laria, PhD, and his presentation "Echoes of Migration: Medically Unexplained Physical Symptoms (MUPS) among Latino Immigrant Patients in a U.S. Primary Care Setting."
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a patient care, teaching and research affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and
consistently ranks among the top four in National Institutes of Health funding among independent hospitals nationwide. BIDMC is clinically affiliated with the Joslin Diabetes Center and is a research partner of Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox. For more information, visit