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Recycle the Old and Welcome the New – Happy Lunar New Year!

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Written by Larissa Ho, GrowNYC Recycling Outreach Coordinator

Many Chinese families will begin sweeping the floors and clearing the house of old items a week before Lunar New Year. Known as, “年廿八,洗邋遢 ” or Spring Cleaning, this custom is symbolic for getting rid of bad luck that happened in the previous year, and making room for good luck in the New Year. While it is common and easy to put things in the trash bin, consider recycling and repurposing old items as you clean. Recycling not only protects the environment, but also transforms old items into new items, and reduces the amount of materials (trees, oil, etc.) needed to make those new things. Make Lunar New Year extra special by cleaning your home and your Earth in an eco-friendly way.

Here are seven common items that you can recycle and repurpose for the New Year:

Clothes and Jackets

Need more space in your closet? Consider donating your clothes and jackets to those in need of one. Organizations like Bowery Mission takes gently worn clothes (including socks and gloves) and coats for the homeless. You can also recycle your old clothes, bags, belts, and paired shoes by bringing them to certain GrowNYC Greenmarkets, which accept these items to be sorted for reuse or recycling. Usable clothes will be distributed to local and international second-hand markets while clothes not fit for reuse will be recycled as wiping rags or shredded and repurposed for insulation and other uses. By recycling unwanted clothes you help prevent sending unnecessary waste to landfills.

Electronics

If you have old phones lying around, take them back to any mobile service provider to recycle. They are required to accept cell phones at no cost. Other electronics (computers and TVs) can be dropped off at collection events organized by the Lower East Side Ecology Center.  Since e-waste is highly toxic to the environment, it is banned from curbside disposal.  Learn how to avoid fines and dispose of electronics responsibly at NYC Zero Waste.

Plastic Bags

Have mounds of plastic bags at home? You can save space by shopping with a reusable bag. Be mindful about your use of disposal plastic bags, which cannot be recycled at home. Clean plastic bags can be returned to large supermarkets and other select stores.

Toothbrushes, Brooms, and Mops

After all the cleaning, treat yourselves to new toothbrushes and cleaning tools! You can recycle the old ones in the metal, glass, and plastic recycling bin (usually blue bin or has blue label) if they are mainly plastic.

Party Utensils, Trays, and Plastic Food Containers

After the Lunar New Year potluck has finished, separate and recycle party utensils, trays and food containers! The majority of the items such as aluminum trays, aluminum foil, plastic utensils, and rigid plastic food containers go into the metal, glass, and plastic recycling bin (usually blue bin or has a blue label). Be sure to empty and rinse food containers before recycling.

Bottles and Cans

When you have finished with the celebratory drinks, recycle plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans in the metal, glass, and plastic recycling bin (usually blue bin or has blue label). Be sure to empty and rinse containers before recycling.

Red Envelopes, Calendars, and Lucky Signage

You can also recycle red envelopes, greeting signs and old calendars. Simply put them in the paper and cardboard bin (usually green bin or has green label). Other paper materials include magazines, wrapping paper, paper egg cartons, cardboard boxes and clean paper cups.

As a New Year is soon approaching, start fresh by tidying up in eco-friendly and responsible ways. Happy Cleaning and Happy Lunar New Year!

For more information on what you can recycle, type your item under “How to Get Rid Of…” section in the NYC Department of Sanitation website: http://www.nyc.gov/zerowaste

 

Larissa Ho is a Recycling Outreach Coordinator at GrowNYC, where she provides education and resources to NYC residents on how to recycle. She is passionate about sustainability and taking care of the environment. She formerly worked as a Teen Health Educator with the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center.

GrowNYC’s zero waste programs are funded by the NYC Department of Sanitation. 

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Protect Yourself from the Silent Killer – Ovarian Cancer

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Ovarian cancer can happen in one or both of a woman’s ovaries.  It is also known as the “silent killer” because it usually does not cause substantial signs or symptoms until it is too late. Although rare, ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system since it is usually diagnosed at a late stage.

There is currently no recommended screening test to detect ovarian cancer in women of average risk level. Nevertheless, there are things we can do to protect ourselves from this silent killer.

Know your risks.

Age is a common risk factor for all cancers. Most cases of ovarian cancer happen in women after menopause.  Several other factors can also increase a woman’s risk for the cancer:

  • Family history of ovarian cancer and breast cancer
  • Genetic mutation (abnormality) related to ovarian cancer/breast cancer/colon cancer/uterine cancer
  • Personal history of breast,colorectal (colon), or cervical cancer, or
  • Obesity
  • Having never given birth or have had trouble getting pregnant.
  • Endometriosis (a condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body).
  • Hormone replacement therapy

Pay attention to the changes in your body.

Many symptoms of ovarian cancer can also be caused by other less serious conditions. “If you have any of these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks, and they can’t be explained by other more common conditions, talk to your doctor right away,” said Dr. Gail Bauchman, Family Medicine Physician at the OB/GYN department of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center:

  • Bloating or abdominal swelling
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Back pain
  • Changes in menstrual pattern
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Increase urinary urgency and frequency
  • Feeling full quickly during meals
  • Indigestion or constipation

Take preventive measures.

Although routine screening of ovarian cancer is not recommended for the general public, diagnostic tests are available for women who are experiencing symptoms of ovarian cancer or those who are at a higher risk. Inform your doctor if you have any of the risk factors mentioned above.

Several lifestyle factors have been shown to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer including

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Using birth control pills – the longer the use the greater the risk reduction
  • Breastfeeding
  • Some at higher risk women have chosen to have their fallopian tubes tied and ovaries removed after they are done having children

Regardless of your risk level, see a gynecologist for routine check ups. Talk to your doctor about any abnormal changes you have experienced and what preventive measures are suitable for you. You can make an appointment at our OB/GYN Department by calling (212) 966-0228 for Manhattan or (718) 886-1287 for Queens, or by visiting our OB/GYN webpage.

This post is made possible with funding from the NYC Council.


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How to Have a Happy Holiday Without Stress or Smoke

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Holidays are supposed to be an enjoyable time when family and friends gather together with food and drinks, but it can also be stressful as people rush from place to place. A cigarette can sound like the perfect way to de-stress, especially during a busy holiday season, but cessation coaches at the Asian Smokers’ Quitline have tips and encouragement for people attempting to quit, or want to stay quit through the season.

“Holidays are fun but they can also be stressful, so it’s important to be aware of triggers and to get extra support,” said Dr. Caroline Chen, project manager of the Asian Smokers’ Quitline. “Let family and friends know that you’re trying to quit, and ask for their support in helping you lead a healthier life.”

Here are some other general tips from cessation coaches on ways to avoid triggers and stay quit during the holidays:

  1. In the midst of holiday busyness, get adequate rest.
  2. Avoid spicy and sugary foods, and alcohol. Holidays are often all about the eating and feasting, but avoid foods that will make you crave cigarettes even more. Eat fruit or less sugary dessert on the menu. As for alcohol, put it away, and instead, reach for a sugar-free seltzer, club soda, or apple cider.
  3. If weather allows, go for a walk. To prevent taking up a new bad habit such as eating whatever you can find to avoid having a cigarette, stay active and exercise.
  4. Spend time with non-smokers. If all your friends are smokers, it may be time to make some new friends. Keep some distance from smokers, and create a community of people who are ex-smokers or non-smokers to help you keep busy and away from smoking.
  5. Having a supportive community is important on this journey. Call the Quitline! Call the Asian Smokers’ Quitline, a free nationwide telephone program for Chinese-, Korean-, and Vietnamese-speakers who want to quit. When you call, a friendly staff person will offer various services: self-help materials, a referral list of other programs, one-on-one counseling over the phone, and a free two-week starter kit of nicotine patches.
  6. Lastly, don’t give up on quitting. You can do it!

About the Asian Smokers’ Quitline:

The Asia Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ) provides FREE, accessible, evidence-based smoking cessation services in Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese to Asian communities in the U.S. ASQ has been shown to double their chances of quitting successfully. Services are provided by native speakers trained in smoking cessation. Eligible callers receive a free two-week starter kit of nicotine patches.

Health care providers and others in the community are encouraged to refer Asian language speaking smokers to ASQ. To learn more about referring, email asq@ucsd.edu or see the web referral link at www.asiansmokersquitline.org. Smokers can also call ASQ directly or enroll themselves online at www.asq-chinese.org, www.asq-korean.org, or www.asq-viet.org.

ASQ is funded by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and has served over 8,000 callers since it was established in 2012.

ASQ is open Monday through Friday, 7am to 9pm Pacific Time

Asian Smokers’ Quitline
1-800-838-8917 (Chinese)
1-800-556-5564 (Korean)
1-800-778-8440 (Vietnamese)

To learn more about ASQ (in English), visit: www.asiansmokersquitline.org.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking.

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center
(212) 966-0461

This post was created by the Asian Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ) of University of California, San Diego


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Repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Impact on Community Health Centers

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The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center Executive Team would like to respond to concerns about the impact to community health centers and our patients if the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is repealed by the new Administration.

Federally qualified health center advocates believe that Congress and the newly elected president will end some key provisions of Obamacare.  However, how much is changed or undone is not clear.  Any plans to repeal and replace Obamacare will take time; it can take up to two years for Congress to agree to major changes and for the president to get a new program in place.

It is hard to predict exactly how the changes will impact primary health care and our communities. However, we do know that the community health center movement in this country is strong and growing.  Throughout the past five decades, federally qualified health centers have thrived and expanded under both Democratic and Republican administrations.  We remain optimistic that the progress that we have made in ensuring accessible, high quality health care for the people who need it most will endure.  Our staff understands our mission and is the reason why we are able to provide great care to all, regardless of ability to pay.

The repeal of Obamacare will mean that many individuals and families could lose their health insurance coverage.  Now, more than ever, federally qualified health centers must continue to expand our service capacity so that we can take care of more patients. With the support of our board of directors, the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center has been working hard to develop a new site in Flushing.  This expansion project will put us in a stronger position to meet the community’s current and future health care needs.

Today, as on every day, the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center affirms our mission by doing our best to meet our patients’ and community’s needs.  We have an outstanding staff, a committed board, and many collaborative partners.  In the coming months and years, we will work together to make sure that we continue to help the lives of our patients and improve the community’s health. We will work together with other New York City, New York State and national groups to support an inclusive health care system that protects all of our residents regardless of their language, culture, economics, or immigration status.

Executive Team – Jane Eng, Dr. Perry Pong, Betty Cheng, Regina Lee, Lynn Sherman, and Kenneth Shieh


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Why We Support Asian Americans Living With Diabetes

shutterstock_112727437Asian Americans are at high risk to develop Type 2 diabetes. As with many health disparities faced by Asian Americans, the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center provides specialized care for our diabetes patients. We talked to Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator Daniel Wong, RDN, CDN, CDE, about our diabetes care program—and what having a patient-centered medical home means for our community.

DN: What is your role in supporting our patients managing diabetes?

DW: I am referred both patients who are pre-diabetic and those who have diabetes. Some of our patients manage their diabetes well; some do not manage diabetes well at all. I support them on insulin injection and blood sugar checking skills, creating exercise plans, and managing their diet through meal planning, portion control, and reading food labels. I also educate them on foot care, eye care, and dental care, which is all affected by diabetes.

DN: What are barriers that diabetic Asian Americans face to manage diabetes?

DW: There are socioeconomic reasons that make it difficult. Many of our patients are Chinese American immigrants, who work long hours and have difficulty making time to go to the doctor. Some are under-insured or have no insurance. Some do not visit a doctor for decades, and at that point they may not know they have diabetes or that their diabetes is uncontrolled.

I also find that there are cultural barriers. Chinese Americans don’t like to take medicine—they think it is unnatural and often think medications damage their bodies.  When our patients are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, they turn to herbal medicine and traditional Chinese remedies. After a few years of this, their pre-diabetes turns into diabetes.

Like in many cultures, diet can be difficult to change for Asian Americans. Cutting down on starches such as rice, noodles, and bread is hard when it is a staple part of their diet. Also, Asian Americans have a lower BMI cut-off to be considered at risk for diabetes. If a doctor is not familiar with this, their Asian American patients at risk for diabetes can easily be overlooked.

DN: Can you tell us about a patient who you had success in breaking through these barriers?

DW: We had a patient in his 30’s who came in with pre-diabetes. We didn’t see him again for three years. When he finally came back, his pre-diabetes developed into uncontrolled diabetes. His blood sugar was alarmingly high. His absence was due to being incredibly busy, and feeling like he didn’t have symptoms worth visiting a doctor. This is very typical for my diabetes patients. He came to see me to learn how to take his insulin, to check blood sugar at home, and how to manage his diet better. After learning about the severity of his diabetes, he cut out starch completely and experienced low blood sugar symptoms. This isn’t necessarily good either. He lost a lot of weight in a very short period of time. We worked together on medication management, meal plans, a balanced diet, and integrating exercise into his lifestyle. Within a month his diabetes was controlled and managed.

 DN: Charles B. Wang Community Health Center is a patient-centered medical home. What does that mean for our diabetes patients?

DW: Charles B. Wang Community Health Center truly does have comprehensive services, especially for those with chronic conditions that need extra care. Most people living with diabetes have a doctor who treats their condition.  In addition to our clinical team, we have case managers and a dietitians, like me, who educate and support our patients to manage their diabetes.  We have certified diabetes educators who host diabetes support groups, workshops, and provide individual counseling. We have social workers that will work with our patients to get health insurance, if that is an issue.  Some of our diabetes patients have depression as a result of their diagnosis. We have therapists to support those patients.  All members of our team provide language and culturally appropriate care.

As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), we are held to a very high standard of care. Having improved health indicators is both important to us and expected of us. As a result, we provide top quality services to community members who really need them—like those living with diabetes.


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Coping with Breast Cancer

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Written by Josephine Tong

About 1 in 8 women (12%) will develop breast cancer. Breast cancer impacts not only the individual, but also the individual’s personal relationships. A breast cancer diagnosis can be scary, but learning how to cope with this illness can help you better manage your physical and emotional health.

Facing the diagnosis of breast cancer is never easy. Initially, you may feel that you have lost control of your life and are overwhelmed with some of the medical decisions that have to be made.  However, learning about breast cancer and discussing treatment options with your doctor can help you feel more informed and in control.

Coping with breast cancer may be a challenging journey, even for the strongest people. You may feel a mix of emotions such as confusion, anger, fear, sadness, loneliness, or hopelessness. This is in addition to some of your worries like the side effect of treatments, the medical bills, or your children’s future. All of these worries may keep you awake every night, but you do not need to face these challenges alone. You may ask your family and friends to be there by your side to support you through these times. You might consider seeking extra care and support from your doctor or other professionals like social workers or psychotherapists. If you are still concerned by the negative emotions and feel overwhelmed by your current condition, joining a cancer support group may also help.

Cancer support groups are led by professionals or trained cancer survivors.  It allows you and other patients with similar diagnoses to meet on a regular basis. The conversations in the group are about some of the experiences and feelings that you and other members might be going through. As you attend more sessions and gain more comfort in the group, you will begin to notice reduced feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, pain, and fatigue. The support group will also let you learn from each other on how to cope with the challenges of cancer, which may help you feel happier with your self-image and be more in control of your life. Research has also shown that breast cancer patients will have better survival rates as they increase ways of social support, including cancer support groups.

At the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, our breast cancer support group is called Rainbow Club, and has shown to be a valuable resource to many of our patients. One Rainbow Club member shared, “After joining the support group, I can relate to other members about how I feel so I no longer feel scared or alone.” We invite all breast cancer patients, all women diagnosed with breast cancer, and breast cancer survivors to join our support groups located in Flushing and Chinatown. You do not have to be a health center patient to attend the support group. Please call 212-941-2233 ext. 2533 for more details. By joining a breast cancer support group, we hope that it will lead to happier and healthier lives, along with building mutual support between other women going through similar circumstances.

Click here to learn about upcoming Rainbow Club meetings.

Josephine Tong, LMSW is a clinical social worker at Charles B Wang Community Health Center. One of her current roles is overseeing program development with the Komen breast cancer support team and the director of social work, Manna Chan.


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Celebrating Disability Pride

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Written by Lilian Lin

Throughout July, we took part in celebrations that honored the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. These events were especially meaningful to us because of our efforts to support families with children with special health care needs.  Spearheaded by the Health Center’s Pediatric Special Needs Team and generously funded by the family and friends of Mrs. Vicki Chang, the Special Needs Initiative is a comprehensive effort aimed to meet the multiple challenges faced by Chinese immigrant parents and caregivers of children with special needs. Through providing parent workshops, training programs, referrals to parent networks, and enhancing community collaboration, the Special Needs Initiative engages, empowers, and improves services for immigrant families with special needs children.

One of the major goals of this Initiative is to bring about systematic changes to address the complex barriers to care for children with special needs. To date, our Special Needs Team has built collaborative relationships with several community service agencies in Manhattan and Brooklyn that serve children with special needs and their families. Taking part in advocacy activities, such as the July Disability Pride Month events, has strengthened the voice of the disability community.

On July 10, 2016, the Pediatric Special Needs Team and two Health Center volunteers participated in the Festival of Fun and Fraternity which took place at Madison Square Park following the 2nd Annual New York City Disability Pride Parade.

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The New York City Disability Pride Parade was started in July 2015 by Mike LeDonne, jazz pianist and Hammond organist, to promote inclusion, awareness, and visibility of people with disabilities, and to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), legislation that demands equal access and equal treatment of people with disabilities.

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Our team set up a booth to distribute free educational materials about issues related to children and teenagers with special needs, as well as provided fun activities, such as bubble guns and temporary tattoos, to attract visitors of all ages. Our booth had a great turnout from individuals, families, and staff from agencies serving individuals with disabilities and their families.

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On July 24, 2016, the Pediatric Special Needs Team and three Health Center volunteers participated in the Chinatown Weekend Walk Disability Pride ADA Birthday Party which took place in Chinatown on Mott Street (between Canal and Worth Streets). Many cultural organizations and local businesses joined together to celebrate the diverse disability community and the 26th anniversary of the ADA.

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We appreciated joining this opportunity to raise awareness of the rights of people with disabilities and celebrate diversity among the Chinatown community.

Lilian Lin is the program coordinator of the Special Needs Initiative at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has an MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She is passionate about working with people and supporting families.