Health club serves underprivileged Vietnamese and Hispanic communities

Westminster (Daily Bruin, Nov 20,2017): Student volunteers spent eight hours Sunday providing healthcare services to Vietnamese-Americans in Westminster, California.

Vietnamese Community Health is a student-run organization at UCLA that provides health care services to Vietnamese-American and Hispanic communities in Orange County. At their fall quarter health fair, students worked with doctors to provide cholesterol and glucose testing, vision screening and dental examinations, as well as treatments from certified chiropractors, to about 200 people.

VCH President Kiana Nguyen, a fourth-year biology student, said the group provides services to Vietnamese-Americans because many do not have a primary health care provider or face language barriers to accessing medical care.

“Through VCH, I really got to understand this disparity on a firsthand basis, and it’s really been eye-opening to me,” Nguyen said.

The club, established in 2006, holds quarterly health fairs and provides hypertension, body mass index and vision screenings biweekly. The health fairs take place in Westminster, California in the fall and winter quarters to provide services to the Vietnamese-American community, and in Santa Ana, California in the spring quarter to reach out to the Hispanic community.

The club found certified medical volunteers in Orange County and Los Angeles to participate in the health fair. Western University Medical School’s Lions Club provided vision, glucose and cholesterol screenings, while members of UCLA’s Vietnamese Dental Student Association provided dental examinations, Nguyen said.

Several students and medical professionals, including Khanh Nguyen, a medical doctor, served as translators for patients who speak limited English.

“I’m fluent in Vietnamese, so I’m really good at listening to patients and explaining medical information in layman’s terms, and I often use analogies to help them understand,” Khanh Nguyen said.

VCH also invited representatives from nonprofit health organizations in Orange County to speak with patients and sign them up for services such as permanent access to primary health care and resources for mental health and addiction, Khanh Nguyen said.

“These free health service programs help patients find a permanent medical home so they can be hooked up into the system,” he said.

The club also provides access to East Asian medical practices such as acupuncture, and has a crafts table for children to make patients feel more comfortable at the event, Kiana Nguyen said.

Brandon Tran, who moved from Vietnam to California 39 years ago, said it was his first time attending the health fair. He added he enjoyed meeting the volunteers and is excited to return next quarter.

“I was just reading a newspaper in a supermarket plaza when someone handed me a flyer for the event,” Tran said. “It’s really good that (this group) supports the Vietnamese community.”

Kiana Nguyen said the club inspired her to continue helping minority and immigrant communities by teaching them about medical terminology and treatments.

“It’s been really meaningful for me to see this community in a new light,” she said. “It’s shaped my passion for being an advocate for underserved communities and helping people help themselves.”

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