New Southern Nevada AAPI Medical Center seeks to bridge the gap


Southern Nevada is home to nearly 260,000 Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Since 2000, the AAPI population has increased by 228%, according to US Census data. And Asians alone are expected to become the county’s largest immigrant group by 2055, according to a 2020 report from the Pew Research Center.

In May, National AAPI Heritage Month, Governor Steve Sisolak proclaimed May 18 Asian Culture Day in Nevada to recognize the group’s contributions to the Silver State. Locally, the Asian Community Development Council announced the opening of the Healthy Asian Pacific Islander (HAPI) Medical Center. The clinic will be geared towards those who are uninsured, underinsured and underserved in the AAPI community.

A pop-up vaccination clinic at WatPa Buddhaya Nandharam temple

Medical Director Dr. Mai Vi Hoang said a targeted clinic was needed, given that the number of doctors in the state has not kept pace with the population growth rate of AAPI. It also highlights other key factors. “A lot of them are first generation. They [might] have a language barrier,” says Hoang. “They don’t have retirement funds as they get older. They have no social security money that is saved.

Hoang and clinical director Dr Michelle Lin are preparing for the opening of the center at the headquarters of the Asian Community Development Council next month, setting up primary care and a foundation to develop specialist care. pneumology and infectious diseases.

Nevada ranks 45th among U.S. states in number of physicians, with 219 active physicians per 100,000 people, according to 2020 data from the American Association of Medical Colleges. Nevada ranks even lower for primary care physicians (48th, with 73.5 physicians per 100,000) and general surgeons (49th, with 5.7 surgeons per 100,000).

Health care disparities and COVID-19

The shortage of doctors and nurses poses a problem for public health in general, leaving many people falling through the cracks, and the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the disparities in health care between minority groups. This has forced public health administrators to see institutional shortcomings in communicating and providing effective care to these groups, which make up more than 57% of Clark County’s population. It has also led to more conversations about the social determinants of health such as class, housing, and access to health care and paid sick leave.

Dr Mai Vi Hoang

Dr Mai Vi Hoang

Black, Latino and Asian Americans were overrepresented among frontline and in-person workers early in the pandemic, and therefore had a higher risk of exposure to the virus, long-term health complications and death. According to a study by the UNLV School of Public Health and published in the Nevada Journal of Public Health in 2021, 56% of Americans had to work in person in 2020 during the pandemic; Latinos and blacks were overrepresented, at 71% and 61%, respectively. Hospitalization rates for COVID-19 among Latinos and blacks were about three times higher than those of non-Hispanic whites, with death rates about twice as high.

According to the study, Asians experienced COVID-19-related hospitalizations and deaths at the same rates as non-Hispanic whites; however, some groups were still disproportionately exposed to the virus. Pacific Islanders were overrepresented among in-person workers at the start of the pandemic and overrepresented in health care support, child care and warehousing jobs. Some AAPI subgroups were overrepresented in medical jobs, such as Filipinos in nursing. According to a National Nurses United study, of the 213 registered nurses who died of COVID-19 in the early months of the pandemic (as of September 2020), 67, or 31%, were Filipino.

In addition to occupational trends, other social determinants of health have contributed to higher rates of COVID-19 transmission. According to a study by the UNLV School of Public Health, minorities are more likely to share accommodation for financial reasons and more likely to have multiple generations living in the same household, increasing the risk of HIV transmission. viruses among these groups. Other determinants, including access to paid sick leave, access to health care and distrust of health care, have contributed to more infections among minorities.

Patient-centered care

HAPI Medical Center directors say they hope the new facility will raise the bar for patient-centered care, which emphasizes accessibility, cultural awareness, availability and affordability. A critical part of this quality of care will be translation services, says Chloe Hsia, director of strategic initiatives at the Asian Community Development Council (ACDC).

“That connection to the community is extremely important,” says Hsia. “Virtually all of our staff at ACDC are bilingual or trilingual.”

Dr. Michelle Lin

Dr. Michelle Lin

Thousands of Southern Nevadans who speak Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, Pohnpeian, Shanghainese, Sinhalese, Spanish, Tagalog, Taiwanese, Tamil, Thai and Vietnamese are already turning to ACDC for assistance with citizenship documents, health insurance registration, voter registration and other translation services. . And the nonprofit plans to incorporate that into the new medical center, Hsia says.

A clinic specifically geared towards the AAPI community could help address higher rates of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are underinsured or uninsured. According to the US Office of Minority Health, 6.6% of Asian Americans and 9.1% of Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders are uninsured, compared to 6.3% of non-Hispanic whites. The clinic is working on developing a sliding scale fee commensurate with patients’ income level, Hsia says.

When it comes to conditions prevalent within the AAPI community, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are at higher risk for cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, smoking, tuberculosis and liver disease. According to the Office of Minority Health, infrequent medical visits, language and cultural barriers and lack of health insurance could contribute to the high prevalence among these groups. Lin says cultural awareness, such as a non-judgmental approach to alternative health practices, can help combat these common conditions.

“Being able to bridge that gap for them is very important -[letting] they know we don’t look down on them for using herbs and teas and will make it work,” Lin says. We will make herbs and other alternative treatments work in conjunction with Western medicine, and help them not be afraid.

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