Jefferson University Hospital Reaches Out to Chinatown Neighbors
The Chinese Health Information Center of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital acts as a bridge between Philadelphia's Chinese community and the hospital's services by offering referrals, translation, counseling, registration and educational assistance. The Center's ground-floor location at 10th and Chestnut Streets -- 1990 Gibbon Building -- is just a few blocks south of Chinatown.
"Jefferson recognized that Chinatown is in its backyard, and that a large percentage of the approximately 30,000 Chinese residents in the greater Philadelphia area do not speak English," says Philip T. Siu, MD, Director of the Center, a member of the Jefferson University Hospital medical staff, and a pediatrician at Chinatown Pediatrics Services. "It made sense as a responsible academic health center to address the needs of this population."
Dr. Siu, who is also Instructor of Pediatrics, Jefferson Medical College (JMC), directs a staff that is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese and Vietnamese as well as English. These personnel include translators, a medical benefits counselor, a maternal child nurse, a mental health counselor and health educators. They help non-English- speaking community members acquire social services and health insurance, register for health education and parenting classes, and make medical appointments. Hundreds of area residents have taken advantage of free health screenings and childhood immunizations organized by the Center.
A Center representative contacts all Chinese inpatients at the hospital to see if they need translation help with such important hospital documents as surgical consent forms, maternity discharge instructions, the patient handbook and bill of rights. Plus, the Center has produced a Chinese-language video that explains Emergency Department procedures, and has arranged with hospital dietitians to provide a special menu.
Understanding Chinese Culture
"Some Chinese people avoid American physicians out of fear that they will scoff at their use of medicinal Chinese herbs," says Dr. Yin. "Before the Center opened, some didn't go to see a doctor at all or went to New York City to find a physician who spoke Chinese," Dr. Yin says. "They are so happy now to find doctors here who speak their language."
In addition, the Center supports an Obstetrics Clinic for Chinese-speaking women at Jefferson University Hospital. This clinic is the only one of its kind in Philadelphia. Mothers-to-be also can attend a five-session course covering labor and birth, infant care and breastfeeding offered in Cantonese and Mandarin.
All services are free, thanks to support from the hospital, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Connelly Foundation, the van Ameringen Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust, First Union Bank, the Office of Minority Health, USDHH and the Women's Board of Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
The Center is an extension of the Chinese Community Partnership for Health formed at Jefferson University Hospital in 1996. The partnership launched a Chinese Health Information Line that has responded to more than 5,000 calls for assistance since 1997.
You can reach the Chinese Health Information Line at 215-955-8282.