Anna Garcia Bernal, MD, is a first year LSU rural family medicine resident physician at Our Lady of the Angels Hospital in Bogalusa.
Dr. Bernal and her family are originally from Guadalajara Jalisco, Mexico, and have resided in the U.S. for 40 years.
Dr. Bernal shares what National Hispanic Heritage Month means to her, “Traditionally, we celebrate on September 16, because that’s the day Mexico earned its independence from the United States. There is a weeklong fiesta. On the last day, they build a big tower of fireworks in the shape of a castle, they play the national anthem, and someone does the ‘grito’ scream, often featured in Mariachi music.”
Proud of Her Latin Culture
Dr. Bernal hospital badge says “doctora” (doctor in Spanish). She makes sure she speaks to all Spanish-speaking patients in their native language and helps to honor those who have been marginalized by representing the Latin culture.
Dr. Bernal’s favorite tradition is Dia de Los Muertos – the annual Day åof the Dead. While people often consider death negatively, this holiday honors those who have passed on.
“We celebrate Dia de Los Muertos. We set up an altar with photos of those we’ve lost, even pets. We prepare their favorite foods and light candles. We believe people cross over that night, enjoy their favorite foods and are present with us,” she says. “I draw and paint, so I typically do paintings or sculptures of marigold flowers in paper mâché. Last year I did a sculpture of a woman, and her skirt was paper mâché. I like to make the decorations because its more meaningful to me.”
Homemade tacos are her favorite cultural dish. “My mom makes handmade corn tortillas. She came with me from California to help me take care of my 18-month-old daughter. The transition was hard for her. She has lived all of her adult life in California. We now live together in an apartment in Covington, and she cooks for us all the time.”
Diversity Drives Healthcare Career
Dr. Bernal was inspired to pursue a career in medicine because growing up, doctors typically didn’t look like her or speak her language.
“I always had to translate for my mom, and I wanted to bridge that and offer an alternative,” she says. “Being marginalized by medicine as a minority is really what inspired me.”
Our DEI Commitment
Our ministry’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion supports culturally competent care education for our team members all year long, especially during Hispanic Heritage Month each September.