Community outreach helps patients get access to much-needed medical services
Englewood Hospital and Medical Center goes above and beyond to take care of its Korean neighbors. That’s why the Center for Korean Health and Wellness helps educate patients about the top-notch care at the hospital’s Heart and Vascular Institute.
“The Korean population cannot avoid cardiac issues,” said Jaehoon Chung, MD, a cardiologist at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, whose expertise is in diagnosing and treating heart disease. “We offer the full spectrum of cardiovascular and diagnostic services to everyone, including the Korean community, which has close and easy access to us. We have the best technology in cardiac imaging, excellent surgical teams, and a dedicated team of nurses.”
As Korean immigrants and first-generation citizens age, their need for comprehensive medical care grows. Dr. Chung notes an uptick in the numbers of Koreans with coronary artery disease or heart and vascular disease.
“Fortunately, the Center for Korean Health and Wellness does a fantastic job of community outreach, which is no small feat,” Dr. Chung said. “They help patients get access to medical services. They help the patient navigate the paperwork, and they make sure that someone with limited English gets to the right doctor.”
The Korean center will even serve as a liaison with social services to ensure its community members are able to pay for necessary medical treatment.
Dr. Chung champions the Korean center’s ability to educate the community it serves with its weekly health fairs. Each fair focuses on a different aspect of health. When the focus is the heart, Dr. Chung will sit on a panel with other top cardiologists to discuss the services that Englewood Hospital provides and the importance of preventive care.
The health fairs break down various specialties and explain how to access medical services so members of the Korean community do not feel so overwhelmed, according to Dr. Chung.
“The first step is the most difficult for a lot of patients,” he said. “They will think a lot before coming in for a diagnostic workup, but it’s so important that they do. It’s often very difficult and takes a lot of understanding of the makeup and the unique culture of the immigrant community.”
Dr. Chung notes that many Korean immigrants have never had appropriate medical care, often because their finances prohibited it or they were too busy working.
“There’s a notable characteristic among Korean immigrants where they have an incredibly high pain threshold,” he said. “Then they’ll often make a self-diagnosis, and the next thing you know they’re in the emergency room with a serious and potentially fatal disease. That’s something that we need to break through.”
To that end, the Korean center stresses the importance of seeing a primary care physician, helps aging Koreans find a doctor who understands their needs, and creates a relationship with the family.
“With the Korean community, family dynamics are different and need to be understood in order to have effective communication,” Dr. Chung said. “As a doctor, sometimes you need to talk to the family members, not the patient, and you need to recognize that medical decisions are often made by the family, not just the patient. Now that’s a very different situation from many other patients that we serve, so it’s really beneficial to the families and to the cardiovascular teams to have someone from the Korean center who understands those communication nuances. Englewood Hospital recognizes that cultural differences shouldn’t prohibit someone from obtaining excellent care.”
Posted September 2017