The WellSpan Spotlight

Health and wellness

During WellSpan visit, a simple act reaches across cultures

During WellSpan visit, a simple act reaches across cultures

WellSpan physician Dr. Mark McKeague starts his visits with Ed and Rosie Leviste by doing something very simple: reaching out his hand. 

"My parents love that," says Christie Magsino, daughter of the Levistes, who are Filipino-American. "In our country if you hold someone's hand, that shows respect. He takes their hand. He says, 'How are you doing? I'm glad to see you.' For them, this is big." 

Through his respect, compassion, and culturally sensitive care for the Levistes, McKeague has built a relationship that has led to better health for the couple, who are both in their 70s and were hesitant to seek medical care when they first came from the Philippines to the U.S. almost 20 years ago. The couple lives with Magsino, a WellSpan regional quality clinical specialist. 

"My parents adore Dr. McKeague," Magsino says. "They do not want to get sick just to show him they are taking care of themselves. They do not want him to worry about them! Everything he tells them, they follow. It's their way of giving respect back to him." 

"This is because Dr. McKeague is the best doctor," Ed Leviste says. "He's so kind, always." 

During their patient appointments, McKeague, who practices at WellSpan Internal Medicine – Apple Hill in York, regularly asks detailed questions about the Levistes' diet, which includes traditional Filipino dishes, including white rice and meat, and cooking techniques, which often includes frying, and suggests ways to make it healthier. He asks them about their daily routines and tries to find ways to help them incorporate more movement into their particular activities. 

This is an embodiment of the WellSpan value of "respect for all," where WellSpan team members seek to better know their patients, strive to conduct themselves with empathy, and respect the diversity and dignity of all. 

For McKeague – and other WellSpan providers – this is the way to care for patients from any background, paying careful attention to the context and surroundings of their lives. His patients include people from South Central Pennsylvania, of course, but also from Africa, Peru, India, and other countries. McKeague enjoys what he learns from his patients and how he can design care that speaks to them and their unique background, lifestyle and eating habits.  

"I ask about their country, whether they have family members there, when was the last time they visited, and other questions. It helps to build rapport with them. It demonstrates that you are showing an interest in their life other than medical problems," he says, adding with delight, "I like to learn about my patients!" 

WellSpan's compassionate and culturally sensitive care has been the hallmark of the Levistes' experience across the WellSpan system, including the care Ed received when he had prostate cancer. It's been a journey for the Levistes, one that allowed them to overcome their hesitancy and develop trust in their providers, says Christie, who worked as a nurse and as a director of nursing in area nursing homes before her current position working with skilled nursing facilities on quality and transitions of care. 

For his part, McKeague says he learns from his patients from all cultures, appreciating their respect for their elderly relatives, the importance they put on family relationships, and the gratitude they have for each day. 

"Mr. Leviste is one of the happiest guys you could ever meet," he says. "He's dealt with many things but he's always smiling. He's wonderful to work with. 

"These are patients you just look forward to seeing. You find them interesting, but they are just very warm, and they make you feel good. I admire them and they bring me joy."