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Repeal of the Affordable Care Act and Impact on Our Patients

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The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center knows firsthand that this country has come a long way in in expanding health insurance coverage for millions of uninsured Americans. About 20 million Americans have gained health insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) since it became law in 2010. Congress is now vowing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which puts this advancement in danger if an appropriate replacement is not in place.

Lanying Lee was one of the first people we assisted to enroll for health insurance through the New York State of Health exchange in 2013. The exchange was set up by New York State to meet the requirements of Obamacare and help consumers shop for health insurance and apply for government subsidies.

Lanying is a petite Chinese woman who lives in Flushing, Queens with her small family. She had been a manicurist in New York City for ten years. Her husband owns a small shop that sharpens tools used in nail salons and does odd part-time work for added income. While their modest income made them ineligible for government funded health insurance, they did not earn enough to pay the high cost of private health insurance. “I read about Obamacare,” says Lee. “We were hearing a lot about it. I thought, ‘I need this.’”

According to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, two in ten Asian American residents of New York City were uninsured prior to the implementation of the New York State of Health initiative under the Affordable Care Act. For Lanying Lee, Obamacare could not have arrived soon enough. “We did not have health insurance for three years. We are getting older, and we want to take care of our health. We have specialist doctors to go to and general check-ups that we should have regularly. We were not going to the doctors because we could not pay. Having insurance has made such a difference for us. We are going to the doctors on schedule, and we are staying healthy. Obamacare is what we needed. It has been a bumpy ride to enroll, but it was worth it. We are very happy.”

Since the NY State of Health exchange was implemented, the percentage of uninsured New Yorkers was reduced by half. Having health insurance means that patients are able to maintain regular check-ups and preventative care, where they otherwise might forgo care or resort to going to an emergency room.  Many plans under the Obamacare provide free preventative care and well-woman visits, and reduced costs on prescription drugs.

On January 4th, 2017, NY Governor Cuomo stated his concern for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement in place. The repeal of the Affordable Care Act may result in over 2.7 million New Yorkers losing their health coverage.  “Since its implementation, the Affordable Care Act has become a powerful tool to lower the cost of health insurance for local governments and New Yorkers, and it is essential that the federal government does not jeopardize the health and livelihoods of millions of working families,” Governor Cuomo said.

We believe that patients like Lanying Lee may suffer great harm if they lose their health insurance. We implore our members of congress to not repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement in place.

*Name of client has been changed

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


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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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October is Dental Hygiene Month

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Written by Ivan Lee

How important are your teeth? Your teeth are essential to help you eat, talk and breathe easier. Taking care of your teeth can help in many different ways like having a great smile, being able to eat food that you like and much more.

A great start to taking care of your teeth is choosing the right kinds of foods in your diet. Try foods that provide calcium to help re-mineralize your teeth and strengthen your enamel. These are some of the best food choices for your teeth:

  • cheese
  • chicken or other meats
  • nuts
  • milk
  • Fiber-rich fruits and veggies

The worst food choices usually contain lots of sugar, starch or acid (the foods that taste so good!). These foods can eat away at your enamel and add more bacteria in your mouth. Here are a few you should limit for your dental health:

  • hard candy
  • citrus fruit
  • pickles
  • sugary drinks like bubble tea, soda and fruit juice
  • acidic drinks like vinegar, wine and tomato juice

It is okay to eat your favorite treat from time to time, as long as you are taking care of your teeth. Remember to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once a day, use mouthwash to wash any access residue, don’t smoke, and of course, visit your dentist regularly. This will reduce your chances of getting cavities, and gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Please visit the dentist to see how they can assist you on having a great smile. Going to the dentist sounds like a chore or possibly scary, but they are your best friends when it comes to your teeth. You can make an appointment with the dental department by calling (212) 226-9339.

Written by Ivan Lee. Ivan Lee is the dental program associate from the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He coordinates outreach and workshops to the community to educate about dental health.


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Flu, Enterovirus D68 and Ebola – Should I Worry?

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Written by Dr. Loretta Au

There is a lot of fear about infectious viruses like Enterovirus D68 and Ebola, and we understand why. We want to provide you with information on what these viruses are so you can take steps to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy. Disease-Chart*Information taken from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

There are a few ways that you can protect you and your family from the flu and Enterovirus D68. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth and food with unwashed hands and avoid direct contact with a severely ill person. If you or your child feels ill, do not go to school or work—go see the doctor right away. To prevent further spread, regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched by someone who is sick. Make sure to get a flu shot! This will not protect you from Enterovirus D68, but it will protect you from the flu.

While Ebola is a very scary and serious disease, it is important to remember that it is only spread through direct contact with a person who has symptoms. Here at the Health Center, we have a plan in place if we do have a patient who has symptoms of the Ebola virus. We will do everything we can to protect our patients and our community.

The Health Center and other medical facilities are here to support you and make sure you and your loved ones stay healthy throughout the season.

Written by Dr. Loretta Au, MD, MPH. Dr. Au is the Chief of Pediatrics at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She received her medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine and completed her residency training at New York University Medical Center. Dr. Au is certified through the American Board of Pediatrics.


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Be the Match and Save a Life

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This is Eric Hou. He needs our help.

About Eric Hou

Eric Hou is a 25 year old senior at Rutgers University, where he currently has a double major in cell biology and neurology. He hopes to pursue research and healthcare to further the medical field. He has always excelled in academics and is very active in charitable events in both school and his community, such as volunteering with animal shelters. Eric is a high spirited young man who has always been willing to lend a helping hand and is extremely family oriented. He is generous and contagiously spreads his humor and laughter to all of those around him. Eric was recently engaged to his long-time girlfriend.

Eric recently relapsed after his first battle with leukemia and is currently undergoing chemotherapy at Hackensack University Hospital. He was on the path to finish college and marry his fiancé before relapsing. He has a big heart and lots of potential in his future. Eric’s friends and family are organizing the drive to help him fight this deadly illness.

How Can You Help?

You can help Eric by becoming a member of the bone marrow registry. To become a member, you take a simple cotton-swab test to see whether or not you are a match for someone in need for bone marrow donation. If you are determined to be compatible, you will be given the opportunity to donate your bone marrow to Eric. There is no obligation to donate bone marrow when you join the bone marrow registry.

Take part in a special bone marrow typing drive as part of a movement to find a bone marrow donor for Eric Hou. The event will take place on Saturday, October 11, from 11am to 3pm at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. We are located at 268 Canal Street, 1st fl, New York, NY 10013. If you are between the ages of 18 and 44 and are in good general health, please come fill out a consent form and get a cheek swab. It will take 15 minutes and it is painless.

Not only will your contributions help increase Eric’s chances of finding a compatible donor, it will also help the many others in the present and future who are diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma, sickle cell anemia or other life-threatening diseases.

There is currently a severe shortage of bone marrow matches for minorities, including Asian Americans. If you are Asian American, we encourage you to register.

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Coping With Stress and Anxiety

Written by Sook Yee Yeung, LCSW

Mental Health is often negatively associated, stigmatized, and misconstrued—this can be particularly true in Asian communities. It is important to understand that our mental health is vital in maintaining our overall health. When we neglect to do so, we may fall prey to daily stressors, have difficulty coping, and can even become physically ill.

How does stress and anxiety affect your body?

When we are faced with stressful situations and do not know how to cope in healthy ways, our bodies may react with a wide array of negative symptoms. These can be physical—like headaches, dizziness, heart pounding, sweating, frequent urination or diarrhea, shortness of breath, poor sleep, tremors, twitches and muscle tension.

There are, of course, a range of emotional symptoms as well, including being easily annoyed or irritated, unable to sit still, trouble relaxing, feeling tense and jumpy, unable to stop worrying, and difficulty concentrating.

How can I manage stress and anxiety?

Everyone deals with stress, and many people live with anxiety. There are many practical ways that we can improve the way we cope. Here are 5 things you can incorporate into your daily life to best manage stress and anxiety.

1. Have a regular to daily exercise routine. Exercise is a huge stress reliever and mood booster. Try walking, jogging or even dancing for 30 minutes a week for a start.

2. Get Enough Sleep. A lot of times when we are stressed, our body is actually telling us that we need more rest and sleep.

3. Eat well-balanced meals. Foods that are high in fats and sugars often leave us feeling lethargic and less able to deal with stress. Also consider limiting alcohol and caffeine intake. Alcohol and caffeine can greatly impact our sleep cycle, which in turn can heighten our fatigue and stress levels. They can also aggravate symptoms of anxiety and trigger panic attacks.

4. Take a time-out. You can do this through meditation, yoga, acupuncture, and massage therapy. These activities will help your body to produce endorphins—a chemical which our bodies produce as a natural painkiller.

5. Talk to someone. Talking with trusted family members and friends about your stress and anxiety can help a great deal to relieve stress. It is also helpful to speak with your medical doctor or a therapist if professional help is needed. If you are a patient of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, we have licensed professionals who can provide you with the right treatment, which could include medication and/or counseling. Call us to make an appointment at (212) 941-2213.

Written by Sook Yee Yeung, LCSW, is a New York State-Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Mental Health Bridge Program at Charles B. Wang Community Center. She provides mental health related treatment and services.