Tackling health disparities and promoting culturally competent care
Consider these recent local experiences: A Chinese volunteer, who came to help at a community presentation on hepatitis B, is inspired to get screened then and there for that potentially deadly disease. Chinese patients delight in finding familiar comfort foods--such as rice porridge--on their bedside menus. Chinese-speaking residents use a physician referral network to locate doctors who speak their same language and area physicians attend a training to learn how traditional Chinese herbs interact with modern Western medicines.
These are just a few outcomes of the many programs and activities sponsored by El Camino Hospital’s Chinese Health Initiative (CHI), established in 2010. “We’re committed to improving the patient experience and serving the community in the most culturally appropriate and sensitive way,” says Cecile Currier, vice president for corporate and community health services, noting that people of Asian descent now account for about a one-third of this area’s population, with Chinese the largest subgroup. “We want to identify disparities among the South Bay’s growing Chinese population and work to reduce or eliminate the disparities.”
Health issues on CHI’s agenda include hypertension; stroke; lung cancer; and especially hepatitis B, the cause of about 60 to 80 percent of liver cancer cases, says Jean Yu, CHI manager. “About 1 in 10 Chinese Americans is infected with hepatitis B,” Yu explains. “And 2 out of 3 people with chronic hepatitis B are not aware they are infected because there are no symptoms.”
These sorts of troubling statistics sparked CHI staff and the community advisory board to join Stanford’s Asian Liver Center in spearheading the Hep B Free Santa Clara County campaign. It will be an ongoing effort involving many local organizations to dramatically increase awareness of hepatitis B and boost the number of people who are screened and vaccinated. In the meantime, Yu emphasizes, CHI has already made impressive inroads. “We are here to promote understanding and serve as a bridge between our hospital and the community,” she says. “There has been a great response from the community. They are very appreciative.”
To learn more about CHI, find a Chinese-speaking physician or get involved with the Hep B Free campaign, call CHI’s office at 650-988-3234, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.elcaminohospital.org/CHI.