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

CBWCHC

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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Immigrants are America’s Past, Present, and Future

CYCWritten by Jane Eng, CEO

I grew up in an immigrant family.  My parents operated a hand laundry in Poughkeepsie, New York.  Sadly, my father passed away when I was in high school.  My mother was left with the responsibility to raise four children.  Despite the challenging circumstances, she made sure that all of her children went to college and beyond.  Today, my siblings and I are contributing members of our communities.

Eng's Hand Laundry - Snow storm, Jane's brother

Jane Eng’s brother in front of Eng’s Hand Laundry.

My family’s immigration history is not unique.  People from around the world have come to this country seeking freedoms and opportunities woven into the American dream.  The first generation works hard, and many make great sacrifices to secure a better future for their children.  In doing so, immigrants contribute to the rich diversity of cultures, backgrounds, skills and experiences that makes this nation great.

In New York City, immigrants have helped revitalize neighborhoods such as Coney Island, Jackson Heights, Flushing and Sunset Park, and account for about $250 billion of economic activity annually.  About 20% of Fortune 500 companies in the United States are founded by immigrants.  Many of these firms have a strong presence in this city.

Immigrants are also playing an important role in helping New York meet its healthcare workforce gaps.  One in three physicians in New York graduated from a foreign medical school, a sign that they were born outside the United States.

Immigrants are bringing vibrancy to the cultural life of this city through food, songs, dance, music, and other performing arts.  Their economic and cultural contributions have made New York a truly international city.

Laundry bundles-Jane, mother, brother

Jane Eng with her mother and brother inside Eng’s Hand Laundry.

Today, I am proud to give back to immigrant communities by working at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center.  The Health Center provides high quality primary health care to all patients regardless of language, culture, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, immigration history, or ability to pay.  More than 85% of our patients prefer to be served in a language other than English.  I truly believe that the Health Center’s success is due to our staff’s unwavering commitment to excellence and our ability to deliver linguistically accessible and culturally effective services.

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2016 Grand Opening of CBWCHC 45th Ave site in Flushing, Queens. CEO Jane Eng is 8th from left.

The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center has served a vital role in meeting the health care needs of Asian Americans and other immigrant communities for more than 45 years.  My hope is that we will continue to be a vital force in building healthy immigrant communities for many more decades to come.

Jane Eng is the chief executive officer of the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Jane has been involved with the Health Center since 1975. She is a board member of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) and Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS).


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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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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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Summer Fun in the Sun – UV Safety Tips

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Written by Erica Wan

Though summer is a great opportunity to unwind and spend some time with family on the beach, it is important to remember that more time outdoors means more sun exposure. Sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, but ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun can also damage your skin, causing premature aging, wrinkles, and an increased risk of skin cancer. UV rays can even be a concern even on cloudy days, as up to 80% of UV rays can pass through clouds. Here are some tips for having a fun, relaxing summer without the sunburn.

Monitor UV levels. It’s a good idea to check how high UV levels are in your area for a better idea of how to prepare and what activities to plan for a given day. You can find the UV index for your local area in the weather forecast or on epa.gov.

Use sunscreen. Sunscreen is one of the best ways of reducing UV exposure. You should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.  Broad spectrum means it protects against the major types of UV rays that cause damage (UVA and UVB). Don’t forget to check the expiration date on your sunscreen, and consider using a water-resistant sunscreen if you will be in the water. Since sunscreen can wear off, it’s important to reapply throughout the day, especially if you swim or exercise.

Cover up. Wearing clothing such as long-sleeved shirts or long pants will help protect against UV exposure. Tightly woven fabrics offer better protection against UV exposure.

Accessorize with sunglasses and a hat. A wide-brimmed hat can help protect the sensitive parts of your face, neck, and ears from too much sun exposure. UV rays can also damage your eyes, increasing your risk of developing cataracts. Opt for UV-absorbent sunglasses to protect your eyes; most sunglasses sold in the U.S. offer broad-range protection against UV rays.

Limit exposure, and stay hydrated!  Generally, UV rays are the strongest from 10am to 4pm. If you have to be out in the sun during this time, don’t forget to take breaks in the shade. It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day, so you lessen the risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Check out our tips for healthy summer drinks. Keep drinking, even when you’re not thirsty.

Now that you’re all summer ready, get out there and have some fun!

Written by Erica Wan. Erica is currently a health education intern at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She is studying Biology, and Culture, Health & Science at Smith College, with an interest in immunology and medicine.


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Let’s Talk About Colon Cancer

 

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Written by Dr. Ady Oster

People do not talk about colon cancer very much.  Perhaps this is because it’s embarrassing to discuss, perhaps because they do not know much about it. That is a shame, because colon cancer is common and it is one of the most preventable cancers.

Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer among Asian Americans, for both men and women (after breast, prostate, and lung) and (because it is more deadly than prostate cancer) colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths. While a few people with colon cancer have family members who also had colon cancer, most colon cancer occurs in people who do not have a family history of this cancer.

Cancers occur when a group cells grow out of control. Initially, they remain in one organ forming a lump. In time they can spread to other organs.  Most cancers are much more easily treated when they are still in one organ. Colon cancers start as a polyp. These are small, warty-looking bulges in the inside lining of the colon.  Over time, some of these polyps can become cancers (10% in ten years), invade the lining of the colon, and eventually spreading to other organs. Because polyps are small, they do not cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.  It is impossible to feel polyps.  The only way to know if you have a polyp is by having a doctor look at the inside of the colon.  If polyps are removed, they can no longer become cancer. Therefore, the best way to prevent colon cancer is to have a colonoscopy to look for and remove polyps.

Most polyps and cancers cause bleeding (not visible) into the stool. Usually it is too small to be visible, but it may be detectable with special stool tests. Another way to look for polyps or colon cancer is to have stool tested for microscopic blood. Older tests required eating a special diet for several days and collecting several stool samples. Newer tests do not require any special diet and only one stool sample. If any blood is found, a colonoscopy will be required to find the source of the blood and remove any polyps that are found.  If no blood is found, stool tests will need to be repeated every year in order to provide adequate reassurance that no polyps or cancers are in the colon.

During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a long, flexible fiberoptic scope to examine the entire colon.  If any polyps are found, they are usually removed at that same time. Since polyps take several years to develop and will take even longer to become a cancer. People without any polyps can safely wait ten years between each colonoscopy. People who do have polyps will need to have colonoscopies more often, depending on how many and how big these polyps were. People are usually sedated for a colonoscopy, so most people do not remember having the procedure.  Unfortunately, in order for doctors to clearly see the lining of the colon, it must be cleaned of any stool. Therefore, people are asked to drink only clear liquid on the day or two prior to the test. On the evening before the test, they need to drink medicine that cleans the stool in the colon by causing diarrhea. This can be uncomfortable for a few hours.

The risk of cancer increases with age. Most people should begin testing for polyps or colon cancer at age 50.  People who have family members with colon cancer should talk to their healthcare provider about the right age to start.

Despite the embarrassment or discomfort, it is important to talk about colon cancer. Talk to your primary care doctor about whether colon cancer testing is appropriate for you.  Talk to your loved ones to make sure they have talked to their doctor about colon cancer. You can make an appointment to meet with a primary care provider here at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center by calling (212) 379-6998 for Manhattan, and (718) 362-3006 (37th Ave) or (929) 362-3006 (45th Ave) for Queens. For more information, visit the internal medicine webpage.

Written by Dr. Ady Oster. Dr. Oster is the section chief of internal medicine at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed his residency training at Yale-New Haven Hospital and University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Oster is board-certified in internal medicine.


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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.