Culturally Competent Care

The El Camino Health Chinese Health Initiative is committed to promoting culturally competent patient care for Chinese community members.


The Chinese Health Initiative supports El Camino Health in promoting culturally competent care by providing the medical team with insights about Chinese cultural preferences. We strive to offer services that remove the language barrier, so that doctors and patients can communicate.

We enhance your patient experience by offering:

  • Interpreters and support. We provide phone translation services for numerous languages, and our on-site Chinese (Mandarin) interpreter is available to assist. On-demand interpreters are also available by iPad video conference for a limited number of languages. Please notify your care provider or the patient registration department if you need an interpreter during your hospital stay.
  • Special dietary choices. We offer many traditional Chinese dishes, including rice porridge as an inpatient breakfast option.
  • Books in your language. The Health Library & Resource Center offers numerous health and wellness books written in Chinese.
  • A local resources guide. Our Health Resource Guide for Chinese Seniors in Santa Clara County written in both Chinese and English, is designed to help seniors, their children, grandchildren and caregivers find information about senior health resources in our community.

Patient Ambassador Program

Our Patient Ambassador Program is a collaboration among the Chinese American Coalition for Compassionate Care (CACCC), the Chinese Health Initiative, and spiritual care services at El Camino Health. The program provides our Chinese patients and their loved ones with culturally appropriate support.

Ambassadors who speak Mandarin, Cantonese and Taiwanese have been trained to serve as non-medical interpreters. Their role is to:

  • Listen to the concerns of patients and their families.
  • Answer operational questions and provide information on hospital resources.
  • Sit with those who need additional support.
  • Provide clinical staff with insights that may otherwise go unnoticed.

To request a patient ambassador, select “Chinese” as the preferred language when you register at the hospital. Call the spiritual care office at 650-988-7568 to learn more about the program.

Important Forms to Fill Out for You and Your Family

Everyone has their own thoughts about the kind of care they want in the event of a serious illness or accident. It is crucial to make your wishes known in the event you are incapacitated and unable to speak for yourself. Make sure you, or your loved one, fill out these important forms. Once the form is completed and signed, make a copy and give it to the person you have appointed to make decisions on your behalf. Consider giving additional copies to your family, friends, healthcare providers and/or faith leaders so that the form is available in case of emergency.

Advance Healthcare Directive (AHCD)

In the event that an accident or illness leaves you unable to speak for yourself, an advance healthcare directive (AHCD) lets your doctor know what kind of care you want and who has been designated to make decisions on your behalf. You can write your preferences about:

  • Accepting or refusing life-sustaining treatment (like CPR, feeding tubes, breathing machines)
  • Receiving pain medication
  • Making organ donations
  • Identifying preferred physicians for providing your care, if possible.

It is extremely important to discuss the AHCD with your loved ones in advance, so they have a clear understanding of your wishes.

California maintains an Advance Directive Registry. If your AHCD is filed with the Advance Directive Registry, your health care provider and loved ones should be able to obtain it. You can read more about the registry, including instructions on how to file your advance directive, at the State of California Department of Justice Office of the Attorney General website.

Download the form in English and Chinese.

Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)

In order to give seriously ill patients more control over their end-of-life care, most doctors recommend that they complete a Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) form. Patients can choose to accept or reject life-sustaining measures such as antibiotics and IV fluids, being on a ventilator, artificial nutrition by tube, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation. A healthcare professional completes the form after having a discussion with the patient. In order for the POLST to be considered valid, it must be signed by both the patient and a doctor. By preventing unwanted or ineffective treatments and ensuring that a patient's wishes are honored, a POLST can help reduce suffering for both patients and their families.

Download the form in English, Traditional and Simplified Chinese.

Medical Document Assistance

Our Health Library & Resource Center staff and volunteers are available to help you create important medical documents that communicate your wishes to your loved ones and caregivers. These documents include an advance healthcare directive form (in Chinese) and physician orders for life-sustaining treatment (or POLST, in English and Traditional and Simplified Chinese. We partner with the CACCC to provide these forms and other information in Chinese.