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El Camino Hospital Media Releases

El Camino Hospital Launches Chinese Health Initiative

Mountain View, CA - January 19, 2011 - El Camino Hospital has launched a Chinese Health Initiative (CHI), designed to address the troubling health disparities in the Silicon Valley's Chinese community and to accommodate their cultural preferences in education, screening and health care delivery.

The program includes the formation of a Chinese-speaking physician network, special health screenings and outreach targeted to the Chinese community, Chinese-language health reference and educational materials and physician education to address the health disparities in the Chinese community. One of the key health disparities is chronic Hepatitis B, a condition that affects 1 in 10 Asian/Pacific Islanders, compared to just 1 in 100 in the general U.S. population, and often leads to liver cancer.

Dr. Peter Fung, medical director of the El Camino Hospital Stroke Center and a member of the CHI Advisory Board, said, "While the majority of Chinese-speaking residents in El Camino Hospital's service area have health insurance, they lack access to culturally appropriate and language-specific providers. This often creates obstacles to their ability to seek needed preventive care, diagnosis and treatment. A good example can be seen in the prevalence of strokes in the Chinese population, which can kill or cause serious lifelong disabilities. I believe that better educational outreach to the Chinese community would prevent many strokes by eliminating or controlling risk factors."

Since it was established last March, CHI has worked with the El Camino Hospital Stroke Center and Herald Cancer Care Network to offer the Chinese community screenings and education on stroke and Hepatitis B. Outreach has been conducted through a wide network of community partners and a network of Chinese-speaking physicians has been established.

Cecile Currier, El Camino Hospital Vice President of Corporate & Community Health Services, said, "Over the next two years we will expand the physician network and add more screenings for stroke, Hepatitis B and prostate, all health problems that disproportionately affect the Chinese community."

The hospital already has assembled 30 Advisory Board members including community leaders and physicians, and a network of 51 Chinese-speaking physicians covering an array of specialties and speaking a variety of dialects. The referral list has been distributed in the September Fall Festival, Tzu-chi Health Fair and other major events in the Chinese community. It also will be available for download on the hospital's website.

Dr. Kenneth Liu, an obstetrician/gynecologist and CHI Advisory Board member, said, "The response from the Chinese-speaking physician community has been exceptionally enthusiastic--they see the need for this and applaud the hospital for taking the initiative. This is simply an extraordinary resource for our community."

A recently released California Office of Statewide Health Planning report confirmed that significant racial and ethnic health disparities persist in California. Although it concluded the disparities largely related to poorer outpatient care outcomes, one area starkly contradicted that finding: Asian/Pacific Islanders have the highest mortality rate for heart attack, stroke, pneumonia, coronary artery treatment and coronary bypass graft surgery among all populations.

Census data also confirms the importance of the program in Silicon Valley, where a seismic population shift is underway.

"A close look at growth projections in our area shows that over the next five years almost all population growth will be Asian," Currier said. "By 2014, there will be 420,000 Asians in  Silicon Valley, more than a quarter of them Chinese. We must act now to make sure that El Camino Hospital can meet the needs of this growing population. The Chinese in our community are among the best-educated of all populations and also are relatively well-insured. There is no practical reason they should experience poorer health outcomes."

Jean Yu, manager of the Chinese Health Initiative, said that El Camino Hospital has already taken numerous steps to better accommodate the cultural needs and preferences of Chinese patients, including dietary options such as "Chinese porridge" on the inpatient breakfast menu and providing Chinese-language caregiver information and educational materials.

Working to address ethnic health disparities in the Silicon Valley is nothing new for El Camino Hospital, Currier pointed out. "In 2006, we launched the first center in the world dedicated to addressing the epidemic of heart disease among those of South Asian descent, who are four times more likely than the general population to suffer its effects," Currier said. "The South Asian Heart Center has enrolled nearly 2000 research participants to study the underlying reasons for the disparity and mounted an extraordinary prevention campaign designed to reduce individual risk through prevention, education, and diet and lifestyle modification. We are committed to do whatever it takes to improve the health of our community," she said.