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We Are Here to Serve Everyone – Seek Health Care When You Need It

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The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center has been serving the Asian American community for more than 45 years. We want our patients and community members to know that they should not be afraid to visit their doctors. We will do our best to make sure that you have good health care, and care for you with respect and compassion.  We will never release your personal information unless we have your written approval or we are required to do so by law. Our staff is trained to keep your information private and confidential. We will not turn you away because you do not speak English, do not have a social security number, or do not have health insurance.

The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center is here to serve all New Yorkers regardless of your immigration history or ability to pay. We believe that health care is a basic right and everyone should receive care when they are in need.

Our health centers in Lower Manhattan and in Flushing, Queens are open seven days a week. Our doctors, nurses and staff care about you.  Many of them are immigrants or children of immigrants.  We speak Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese and will provide translation in other languages to make sure that we understand  your needs.  You have a right to interpretation at no cost to you.

There are other services in New York City to help you if you need health care.  These services are available to everyone:

  • Emergency room care.
  • Public and safety net hospitals (NYC HHC hospitals).
  • Public health services such as immunizations, mental health, screening and treatment for communicable diseases such as HIV, STD and tuberculosis.
  • Programs providing health services necessary to protect life and safety such as emergency medical, food or shelter, domestic violence, crime victim assistance, disaster relief.
  • Emergency Medicaid including labor and delivery for pregnancy.
  • Charity care at hospitals and sliding fee scale services at community health centers.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage for children and youth.

Many services do not cost a lot of money. To learn more, please call 311 which provides information about New York City government services.  You can also ask one of our social workers.  Our staff are available to answer any questions you have and help you find the services that meet your needs.

We want to help everyone in the community to live the healthiest life possible.

Learn more about the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center at http://www.cbwchc.org.

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Talk to Your Doctor about Colorectal Cancer

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Colorectal cancer affects men and women equally, regardless of race and ethnicity. It is most often found in people who are 50 years old or older. However, there is an increasing rate of colorectal cancer in those who are under 50, because of physical inactivity and an unhealthy diet. It is important for younger adults to start paying attention to their colorectal health.

According to Dr. Robert Andrew Heyding, a physician at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, “Colorectal cancer causes almost one out of every ten cancer deaths in the United States. Fortunately it can be prevented. You can lower your risk by choosing healthy habits and getting regular screening”.

It’s never too early to start living healthy. Here are some good health habits to lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer:

  • Do not smoke – quit smoking and try avoid second hand smoke. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation resources. Charles B. Wang Community Health Center has bilingual quit smoking resources, you can view those here.
  • Reduce alcoholic drinks – limit to one drink a day or less.
  • Eat a healthy diet – limit high fat or sugary foods, preserved foods, and red meat. Add more fruits and vegetables to your plate.
  • Exercise regularly – walk, jog, swim, or dance. Strive to be active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
  • Keep a healthy weight – talk to your family doctor about what is a healthy weight for you.

Other than having healthy habits, getting screened is very important to prevent cancer. When detected early, there are more treatment options and fewer complications. The most commonly used screening methods include:

  • A Fecal Occult Blood Test (FBOT) checks for blood in stool. Blood in stool may indicate presence of diseases and a colonoscopy may be needed for a diagnosis.
  • A colonoscopy is a thin, flexible tube with a small camera and light on the end is used to examine the colon. It may also have a tool to remove abnormal tissue to be checked under a microscope for signs of disease.

In general, it is recommended that men and women of average risk levels begin screening at age 50. However, some individuals may need to begin screening earlier, such as those who have family or personal history of colorectal cancer or chronic colorectal diseases, and those who are experiencing symptoms of colorectal diseases, such as persistent abdominal pain or changes in bowel habits for at least two weeks.

Discuss with your primary care doctor about when to start screening, which screening method to use, and how often you should get screened. Also speak to your doctor regarding your risk factors or anything unusual in your body. You can make an appointment to see a primary care provider here at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center by calling (212) 379-6998 for Manhattan, and (718) 886-1200 (37th Ave) or (929) 362-3006 (45th Ave) for Queens.


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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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Man Up – Talk to Your Doctor About Sexual Health

Portrait of Mid Adult Man in Nanluoguxiang, Beijing

Written by Dr. Gail Bauchman

Women are more likely to see a doctor for regular check-ups than men, and yet it is so important that men have regular checkups to discuss all aspects of their health. Sexual health is one area that is incredibly important for men to understand. As a doctor at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, here are a few aspects of sexual health that I discuss with male patients.

When you see your health care provider for a routine physical exam or to be screened for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), you will be asked some rather personal questions. These questions are important for your provider to better understand your health risks and provide the best possible treatment.  Some of the questions may involve your sexual practice. For instance, what are you doing to prevent pregnancy? What is your partner using to prevent pregnancy? How many partners have you had in the last year? Do you have sex with men, women or both? What do you do to protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases and HIV?  Do you know how to use a condom appropriately?

Condom use offers protection against some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection. They also offer some protection against pregnancy, but condoms along with the withdrawal method are considered to be the least effective methods to prevent pregnancy.  About 18 women out of 100 will get pregnant within the first year with condom use.

That is why it is important to know what your partner is using to prevent pregnancy. Your health care provider can help answer your questions about contraceptive methods for both you and your partner and help you decide on the most suitable methods. Learn more about birth control and family planning by reading this factsheet.

Question: if the condom breaks and your partner is not using an additional contraceptive method, do you know what to do next to protect her from getting pregnant? The answer is having your partner use emergency contraception.  One of the easiest options is if you or your partner buys a pill that does not require a prescription, called Plan B. The pill should be taken within 5 days of having unprotected sex, but the sooner it is taken the better. Plan B is not 100% effective, but does help reduce the chances of pregnancy.

Your provider may also ask you questions about whether you ever had any STIs. STIs can be transmitted through vaginal, anal, and oral sex and many of them do not cause symptoms, at least in the beginning.  If you do have symptoms such as urinary frequency, discharge from the penis or ulcers on the penis, seek out medical care to get treated. A urine sample is all that is required to test for the most common STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea. Without testing and treatment, you may unknowingly pass these infections on to your partner. Chlamydia and gonorrhea can cause a serious pelvic infection in women that may lead to infertility. Some STIs in pregnant women can also impair fetal development or be passed on to their babies during childbirth. Learn more about STI’s by reading this factsheet.

For the protection of yourself, your partner, and your child, we encourage all men to receive annual physical exams and be screened for STIs whenever they have a new partner.

Come visit us at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center to get your annual check-up and discuss these as well as other important health issues. Our OBGYN department offers family planning services and counseling to both men and women to help you improve your sexual health and achieve your reproductive life plan, whether you are seeking to have children or preventing pregnancy. You can make an appointment at our OBGYN department by calling (212) 966-0228 for Manhattan or (718) 886-1287 for Queens. Find more information by visiting our OBGYN webpage. You can also make an appointment to meet with a primary care provider by calling (212) 379-6998 for Manhattan, and (718) 362-3006 (37th Ave) or (929) 362-3006 (45th Ave) for Queens. Visit the internal medicine webpage.

Written by Dr. Gail Bauchman. Dr. Bauchman is a physician at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She attended Stony Brook Medical School, and specialized in family medicine. She is board certified from the American Board of Family Medicine.


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Know Your Risks for Ovarian Cancer

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All women are at risk for ovarian cancer – and it is too often caught too late. When ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, there are effective treatments. Here is what you need to know about ovarian cancer, and how you can detect ovarian cancer early.

Detect ovarian cancer early

Ovarian cancer can develop in one or both ovaries. The ovaries are the female reproductive organs on both sides of a woman’s uterus. Many women do not know they have cancer until it spreads beyond the ovary. However, if you detect ovarian cancer at an early stage, you can increase your chance of survival. To detect cancer early, learn about the risk factors, and go for routine gynecological exams.

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Know the risk factors of ovarian cancer

A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease. Some common risk factors for ovarian cancer include:

Age is a risk factor you cannot change. As you get older, your chance of developing ovarian cancer increases.

Family history is also a risk factor you cannot change. If you have a relative who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer or breast cancer, your chance of developing ovarian cancer increases.

Cancer history is when you have you have a history of other cancers, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or cervical cancer. Having a cancer history increases your chance of developing ovarian cancer.

No pregnancies throughout your lifetime will impact the hormones in your body. Not giving birth may increase your chance of developing ovarian cancer.

Other risks, such as having endometriosis (a condition where tissues from the uterus grows somewhere else in the body) or eating diets high in fat, may also increase your chance of developing ovarian cancer.

Reduce your risk

There are no known ways to prevent ovarian cancer. However, lower rates of ovarian cancer have been founded in women who:

  • Take birth control pills
  • Give birth
  • Breastfeed after giving birth.
  • Have had their tubes tied (tubal ligation) or their uterus removed (hysterectomy)
  • Have had both ovaries removed.

Know the symptoms of ovarian cancer

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Pain in the area below your stomach and between your hop bones
  • Back Pain
  • Bloating, when the area below your stomach swells or feels full
  • Feeling full quickly while eating
  • Frequent urination

Detect ovarian cancer

While there are not any screening tests available for detecting ovarian cancer, self-awareness is very important. Pay attention to your body, and know what is normal for you. Talk to your doctor about any changes in your body that are not normal. Your doctor may further exam these changes to determine the cause. Be sure to schedule routine GYN checkups with your doctor. This way your doctor will be able to monitor the changes in your body.

Talk your primary care provider and your gynecologist about your risk for ovarian cancer, and what steps you can take to lower your risk. You can make an appointment at our women’s health department by calling (212) 966-0228 for Manhattan or (718) 886-1287 for Queens, or by visiting our women’s health webpage.

Download this in PDF form here.

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


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Have a Smoke-Free Home

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Written by Michelle Chen

We all need clean air to live healthy lives. This includes the air inside your home, not just what you breathe in outside. To protect your and your family’s health, don’t smoke at home. Secondhand smoke, which comes from cigarettes and the air smokers breathe out, is toxic. It has thousands of deadly chemicals, including ones that cause cancer. Non-smokers who live with secondhand smoke are more likely to get sick or die from serious illness such as cancer and heart disease. Secondhand smoke is especially bad for children. At the Health Center, we see kids with family members who smoke that come in with asthma and ear infections.

Secondhand smoke is a special problem in big cities like New York, where many people live in apartments. Much of the air inside a building is shared. Smoke in one unit can move through a whole building and into other units, even if they are far apart. Smoke can get trapped almost everywhere, including walls, floors, doors, and furniture. It can also stay on your clothes and hair. No fan, room spray, or open window can get rid of lingering smoke. Just because you can’t see it or smell it doesn’t mean it’s not there!

Make your whole home smoke-free (not just a few rooms). Moving to another room or opening a window does NOT protect your loved ones from the smoke. Don’t just stop at your home – make your car smoke-free, too. Here are some tips:

  • Get rid of ashtrays, lighters, and matches.
  • Tell your friends and family that you don’t allow smoking in your home.
  • Have gum or fruit as an alternative to smoking.
  • Be polite but firm. If people must smoke, insist that they do it outside.

We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out our posts on tips and why you should quit.

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

You can also get free patches and help from:

This post is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation and adapted from NYCDOHMH’s Health Bulletin.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.


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Growing Older with Hepatitis B: Prevention and Precautions Still Matter

This September we are celebrating seniors for Healthy Aging Month. The Hepatitis B Foundation is doing a series on Growing Older with Hepatitis B, and we have adapted part two of their series. If a senior you know or love is living with hepatitis B, make sure to share!

Most people living with chronic hepatitis B today are over age 50, and like their younger counterparts, they need to keep themselves healthy and prevent spreading hepatitis B to their sexual partners, housemates, and neighbors.

Remember to take care of yourself. Hepatitis B can still affect your health even if you are older. A hepatitis B “carrier” can still get sick. Remember to see your doctor every year for a checkup, which includes checking on hepatitis B. You may need blood tests to see if the virus is still active and affecting your liver and an ultrasound to make sure there is no liver cancer or other liver problems developing. Your doctor can also make sure there are no other illnesses or medications affecting your liver and to see if you need any vaccinations (shots).

You’re never too old for safe sex: You may not have to worry about pregnancy anymore, but you still need to protect yourself and your partner against diseases that can be transmitted through sex, such as hepatitis B. Using a condom is important, because many seniors have not been immunized against hepatitis B. Your partner should be checked for hepatitis B—there is a vaccine available if he or she is not immune.

Seniors see doctors more often than young people, but they are less likely to discuss sex and ask about (or use) safe sex practices. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), syphilis, chlamydia and HIV infections are rising again, and about one-quarter of newly reported HIV infections are in people age 55 and older.

If you live with hepatitis B, make sure you practice safe sex and your partner is vaccinated.

You’re never too old for the hepatitis B vaccine. However, as our immune systems age, our response to immunizations can weaken. The hepatitis B vaccine is effective, but sometimes our aging immune systems don’t produce enough antibodies after vaccination to protect us.

If you or your partner are getting immunized against hepatitis B, about one or two months after you get the last dose, see your doctor and get tested for hepatitis B antibodies (called titers). If you don’t have enough antibodies to fight infection, you can get a fourth vaccine (booster) shot or you can get the entire three doses again. In the meantime, use safe sex to protect you and your partner.

Make sure all medical equipment is sterile. As we all know it’s easy to spread colds and germs when you live with people in close quarters, but spreading hepatitis B can occur when health care workers re-use glucose monitors, which check blood-sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Each year, the CDC reports outbreaks of hepatitis B in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Remember, the hepatitis B virus can live for several days in dried blood on hard surfaces, so a little will go a long way if it’s on medical equipment used to poke or probe or collect blood.

What can you do? If you or a family resident has hepatitis B, remind health care staff who work in these facilities to be sure to practice universal precautions and make sure medical equipment is never re-used or shared.

Don’t assume your specialist knows about your hepatitis B. As you age and develop illnesses that require you to see specialists, make sure they know you have hepatitis B.

We all like to think doctors look carefully at our medical records, but sometimes information gets missed. Why should a specialist know about your hepatitis B? Because some of the medications they may prescribe can hurt our livers and weaken our immune systems.

For example, chemotherapy and other immune-suppressing drugs deliberately weaken our immune systems in order to fight cancer or rheumatoid arthritis. But when our immune systems weaken, hepatitis B can reactivate, resulting in the virus growing again and causing liver damage. To prevent this, doctors can prescribe antiviral medication to keep the hepatitis B virus under control during treatment with immune-suppressing drugs.

Make sure your specialists know about your hepatitis B, and ask them to monitor your viral load and liver health if you require immune-suppressing medication. It’s important to protect your health and speak up at every age.

Adapted from the Hepatitis B Foundation www.hepb.org. To read more blogs about hepatitis B, visit http://hepbblog.org. The Hepatitis B Foundation is a national non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure and improving the quality of life for those affected by hepatitis B worldwide.