Bringing Asian Philadelphians culturally sensitive health care

It should be a day of rain and thunderstorms with a high of 78.

Finding quality and accessible health care in general is a difficult task. But finding a provider who’s culturally competent is a different animal altogether. After nearly 20 years of hair-loss issues and questionable advice, I prefer to only see Black dermatologists who are familiar with my hair type. There’s a reason there’s been an emphasis on racial and gender sensitivity trainings for medical students.

Biases and ignorance affect care. They just do.

Philadelphia may be a diverse city, but its health-care options don’t always reflect that reality. Asian Philadelphians in particular face scarce options. Our lead story follows one of the few health centers that caters specifically to this community.

— Taylor Allen (@TayImanAllen[email protected])

Philadelphia has almost 80,000 residents born in South, Southeast, or South Central Asia, but Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center is one of the few places in the city with medical providers who cater to their needs.

  • The center combines medical care with services to address English proficiency, housing insecurity, and unfamiliarity with internet and technology.

The problem: The lack of cultural and language competency hinders basic health-care needs. It can be overwhelming to do tasks that should be simple, like making a doctor’s appointment or getting care at an emergency room.

  • The lack of health care services for Asian Americans in Philadelphia contributes to poor screenings for serious illnesses like hepatitis B. This is a particular concern among Asian and African immigrants. Most primary care physicians don’t know much about the disease.

Important numbers: Philadelphia’s best estimate is that 22,000 people in the city live with hepatitis B.

  • From 35% to 45% of the city’s newly reported hepatitis B cases are among Asian and Pacific Islander residents.

  • Less than 10% of the city’s Asian, Pacific Islander, and African residents have been tested or vaccinated for the disease.

Reporter Jason Laughlin writes about how medical providers can offer better health care for this community.

Consider this a disclaimer that this is a heavy (but important) read.

When Alison McCook’s father died of dementia, it was after years of palliative care as the disease gradually worsened over time. McCook describes watching his breathing slow until it finally stopped. She walked away with gratitude because he got the death he wanted.

McCook can’t say the same for her mother, who was in immense pain during the last stage of her life living with ALS, a disease marked by the gradual atrophy of muscles.

It’s why she’s advocating for Pennsylvania to allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medications to patients with terminal illnesses.

  • She also wants to end the typical requirement of patients self-administering lethal medication.

In McCook’s own words:

My father’s death broke my heart in many ways, but I am not haunted by it. My mother’s death, however, changed me forever. It changed how I saw the world, stripping away any notion I had of fairness or justice. How could someone who did so much good in her life, and filled mine with so much love, be forced to die in such a horrible way? The memories of her final months will never leave me; inside, I will always be the daughter sitting at her mother’s bedside, watching her beg for it all to be over.”

Continue reading the words of a loving daughter who wanted nothing more than peaceful deaths for both her parents.

Abdul Jabar’s van and food truck have been a staple on Cobbs Creek Parkway near 63rd Street in West Philly for three years.

Note: The location is notoriously busy and both of his vehicles have taken a beating. His food truck — which he has to replace — has been struck three times by hit-and-run drivers, and his van, five times.

But Jabar keeps coming and has no plans to move. For him, “it’s all about feeding the community.”

Stephanie Farr’s latest We the People profile details one man’s passion for providing affordable fresh produce and all-natural goods.

🍴Congratulating: Two Philly-area restaurants — Gabriella’s Vietnam in East Passyunk and Andiario in West Chester — making the list of the New York Times’ top 50 restaurants of 2022.

📺 Watching: The Season 2 premiere of Abbott Elementary, of course. We re-upped our list of all the Philly references in the show.

🗳️ Sharing: Tips for your next short-term gig: Become a poll worker and get paid for Election Day.

Hint: This musician (one of many titles) is from West Philly.


Think you know? Send your guess our way at [email protected] We’ll give a shout-out to a reader at random who answers correctly. Today’s shout-out goes to Ben Sereda, who correctly guessed citywide as Wednesday’s answer.

And that’s a wrap. You should have everything you need today. I’m starting my morning with my first cup of green tea ☕. See you tomorrow.


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