Receiving healthcare has long been an issue for some Asian immigrants in the U.S. Due to language barriers and the lack of health literacy, they have limited access to medical treatments and preventive services. On the other hand, low-income families may not be able to afford medical expenses even if they do have some coverage.
Chin-Yin Shih, the manager of AACS's Health Care and Prevention Department, understood this situation and was determined to make a difference. Since 2010, she has been working with the Asian Health Initiative (AHI), a free clinic that aims to break these barriers to maintain good health of our community members. It targets medically underserved Asian population in central Ohio, offering them culturally and linguistically appropriate health services.
As AACS's collaborative project with the OSU Medical Center as well as the AACS Council, AHI has been running for approximately 20 years. It is held, by appointment, at Rardin Family Practice from 5:30 pm to 9pm every Monday.
Chin-Yin's responsibility includes helping patients make appointments and follow-up. Being bilingual allows her to be an effective contributor especially with those who prefer to speak Chinese.
Though the clinic serves people of all races, the majority of patients are Asian. Primarily, they encounter seniors with chronic disease, offering medical services for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, liver function, body pain, and similar health issues. Patients can also have their blood drawn, receive health education on diabetes, and have prescriptions written. Quarterly Hepatitis B screenings are also held in February, May, August, and November, through regularly scheduled appointments.
On average, the clinic serves seven to eight patients per week, according to Chin-Yin.
Besides Chin-Yin, the clinic is comprised of volunteer doctors and students who usually serve one to two years there. Currently, its medical director is Dr. O'Handley, who has been consistently helping AHI recruit doctors from Mount Carmel Hospital. It also has Dr. Robert Kirkpatrick, the medical director for hepatitis B clinic.
In addition, there are four medical school student coordinators with professional background who take turns for volunteer recruitment, mentoring, and blood drawing, while two people would serve each turn. There are also undergraduate student volunteers performing administrative tasks such as scheduling and paperwork, seven to eight volunteer physicians who regularly assist the program, and two pharmacy students at the clinic.
While helping mitigate persistent healthcare disparities in central Ohio, AHI still has a long, arduous way to go.
The greatest challenge AHI is facing now, according to Chin-Yin, is the recruitment of doctors.
Although Dr. O'Handley has been offering help, AHI is especially in need of volunteer doctors to accomplish its goals. If you or someone you know would like to make an effort in improving access to healthcare in the Asian American community, please contact AACS. We appreciate the time and contribution of those who have supported and currently support AHI!