HealthCare Beliefs and Practices in the Irish-American CultureImmigration of theIrish helped boast skilled tradesmen and were willing to work any kind of jobfor money. Many of the families that came to America in the eighteenth century wasdue to fleeing from religious freedom that was happening in Ireland which weremostly Protestants. During the 1820s and 1830s, a numerous amount of Irishimmigrants were fleeing to America but they were unskilled, Catholic, andpeasant labors. Being Catholic and an Irish immigrant caused problems due to aProtestant nation that they’ve entered. When the Potato Famine of 1845-1851 inIreland struck, the flood of Irish immigrants to America happened. Over 1.7million Irish immigrated but brought the much needed skilled or semi-skilledcraftsmen lifestyle (Irish Americans).
The flow of Irishimmigrants was strong throughout the twentieth century until the United StatesCongress decided to limit immigration during the 1920s. Throughout the 1960sand 1980s, there was a significant drop in Irish immigrants but also there wasa spike in undocumented Irish immigrants. The immigrants coming in undocumentedwere mainly young, well-educated individuals that stated they preferred to workillegally in the United States rather than remain unemployed in Ireland. Withthe amount of Irish immigrants in the United States, there are “Irish Centers”such as New York, Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco where there are highlyconcentrated Irish immigrants in these cities (Irish Americans). CulturalPhenomenaEnvironmentalControlIrish Americanshave strong traditional medical beliefs that still exist to this day. IrishAmericans believe to keep good health and prevent sickness is to wear holymedals and scapulars, blessing the throat, never going to bed with wet hair,never sitting in a draft, taking laxatives regularly, taking tonics and extravitamins, enjoying bountiful exercise and fresh air, and avoiding physiciansexcept when seriously ill.
Like many ethnic groups, Irish Americans also kepttheir teachings about folk medical remedies and traditional treatments (IrishAmericans). According to thearticle, Irish Herbal Medicine(2013), the traditional way of medicine for the Irish is herbalism. It statesthat there are clay tablets that were discovered that had hundreds of medicalplants and what their uses were. Which can still be seen that Irish Americansuse these remedies to treat their illnesses.BiologicalVariations IrishAmericans are like other ethnic groups which are effected by old age,pollution, stress, excessive use of tobacco and alcohol, overly rich diet,employment and other economic problems, discord in marriage and personalrelationships. Heart-related diseases are the number one cause of deaths forIrish Americans and surprisingly, they have a above-average rate of mental healthdiseases (Irish Americans).The Irish areknown for their drinking which can obviously be a negative thing. The Irish areknown for their drinking holiday, St.
Patrick’s Day which involves a lot ofalcohol. However, alcohol plays a strong role in the Irish Americans sociallife. Unfortunately, alcohol can cause illness like heart disease and cause ahigh rate of alcoholism (Irish Americans). CommunicationWhether visitingIreland or helping an Irish American patient, the Irish are known to beingfriendly. Majority of IrishAmericans speak English and only a few still are able to speak the nativetongue of Gaelic. When meeting an Irish American patient for the first time,handshake is the appropriate way to handle the greeting (Living in Ireland).
Irish Americansare known to use stories to relay information and would expect a logicalresponse to their story. Irish Americans appreciate modesty which could bebeneficial to know in the healthcare system. Understanding that Irish Americanswould appreciate modesty, nurses and doctors might have to approach certainsubjects differently or have a same-sex doctor for the patient to be morecomfortable (A Look at Irish Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette).TimeOrientation Accordingto Living in Ireland (2017), IrishAmericans don’t keep track of time well. They tend to be relaxed on time whichcan cause issues in the healthcare system.
Scheduling appointments in thehealthcare system which focuses on being on time and showing up. Since IrishAmericans don’t seem to keep track of time, this can cause issues for thedoctors and make them more agitated towards their patient. Informing an IrishAmerican how important it is to be on time to appointments would make them moreconscious about their timeliness. SpaceThere’s not muchinformation on the types of space Irish Americans enjoy, however it was statedin the article, Irish Americans (2017), that individuals maintain a publicpersonal space around themselves and that public touching is rare. ReligiousBeliefs and Practices Whenthe Irish first came to the United States, they were forced with the decisionto either stay in their faith of Catholicism and be hated, or convert toProtestantism to fit in and get a job.
Whenever the majority of Irishimmigrants came to America, they decided to stick with their roots and remainfaithful to Roman Catholicism. According to IrishAmericans (2017), “Until the mid-twentieth century, the life of CatholicIrish Americans revolved around their parish”. Being a part of the parishhelped families stay connected in their faith and feel belonged to a community(Irish Americans). As time goes on, churches and people’s faith start to gettested.
When the Catholic Church decided to make some changes and innovationsto attract more people, it did the opposite. Members of the parish becameunhappy with how services were being held, the clergy showed discontent, andmany Irish Americans began to question doctrines (Irish Americans). SpecificHealth Traditions for Maintaining, Protecting, and Restoring HealthIrish Americantreatments that are still are painting a sore throat with iodine or soothing itwith lemon and honey, putting a poultice of sugar and bread or soap on boil,drinking hot whiskey with cloves and honey for coughs or colds, and rubbingVicks on the chest or breathing in hot Balsam vapors, which can also be usedfor coughs and colds (Irish Americans). However, more modern Irish Americanshave adjusted to the Western medicine and prefer getting the medication fromdoctors. Irish-AmericansCurrent Use of the American Health Care SystemWhen Irishimmigrants came to the United States, they might have had a shock when theyrealized they had to pay for their healthcare system. In Ireland, medicalservices are provided free of charge by the state to approximately a third ofthe population and all others pay minimal charges at public health facilities(Ireland). However, the practices of the Western medicine is favored by mostIrish Americans due to having a system that tests everything that it gives topatients.
However, the holistic approach of Eastern medicine still survivesthroughout cultures and can be seen in the Irish American community (CulturalGroup Guides: European American). Irish Americansare still hesitant about going to the doctor without being worried that it canbe fixed on their own remedies or with medicine that they own. There are 50,000undocumented Irish immigrants that live in the United States. However, these undocumentedIrish immigrants are living in rural areas that don’t have many jobs and aren’tabout to apply for health care.
They have to think twice about taking theirchild to the emergency room because of their documentation (O’Sullivan, 2017).