When visiting Chen Senior Medical Center in North Miami, many patients look forward to receiving hugs, smiles and kind words from Dr. Hermena Cerphy, a ChenMed regional medical director who clearly enjoys her time with patients and clinical peers. Board-certified in Internal Medicine, Cerphy said hugging and showing warmth is part of her Haitian upbringing, and it’s a heritage trait she shares with her patients.
“We’re very physical in our culture. That's how we show appreciation. That’s how we show love,” Cerphy said. “I am generous with hugs because they’re a great way for me to reassure my patients that I care.”
Cerphy has built close relationships with her patients by embracing cultural similarities and also cultural differences. At the Chen North Miami location, where Cerphy works, patients are culturally diverse, including Haitian, African American, Hispanic, Filipino, Asian, White and Arab patients. Cerphy and her Chen peers are similarly diverse and collectively sensitive to cultural differences.
“I think having a racially diverse medical team helps you learn from each other. Together, we find ways to better relate to different cultures. As a team, we keep improving the patient experience," Cerphy said. “Should I ever approach a patient the wrong way based on different cultural norms, I can count on my peers to give me timely feedback on ‘this is how we do it.’ I definitely appreciate that.”
As doctors, we need to help every patient open up about things that are not always easy to talk about Cerphy noted. “For example, Haitian patients tend to be reluctant to share all the information a doctor needs. So, it would be hard to earn trust without having a close relationship. Plus, it helps to understand cultural factors that affect health, such as eating habits and physical activity.” Cerphy explained she’s been able to recommend healthier eating options compatible with Haitian cuisine.
Frida Auguste has been a patient of Cerphy for nearly 10 years. A retired nurse with over 40 years of clinical experience, Auguste describes her doctor as kind, attentive, respectful and “very, very good.” Auguste lives in Broward County, and regularly drives 20 minutes each way to Chen’s North Miami office to keep Cerphy as her primary care doctor.
“She’s the type of person you can sit and talk with. She understands and takes care of whoever she’s in contact with,” Auguste said. “I love her very much.”