The Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC) has served the Asian American community in New York City since its establishment in 1971. That year, a group of volunteers organized the Chinatown Health Fair to provide free health screenings and health education and to show the need for Chinese-speaking staff in hospitals. The fair’s great success inspired the volunteers to create a free health clinic in Chinatown. CBWCHC, then known as the Chinatown Health Clinic, was staffed by volunteer doctors, nurses, social workers, and students who all sought to address the unmet health care needs of New York City’s Chinese population.
Asian Americans in the health center’s service area face many social challenges. They are poorer, less educated, and less able to speak English than the general population. Most patients have emigrated from China and Southeast Asia, and 88% report that they are best served in a language other than English. The vast majority have incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
Such disparities in education and income have often been associated with differences in health.
Quality affordable health care and education and advocate on behalf of the health and social needs of underserved Asian Americans. In fact, data show that Asian Americans face disparities in diabetes, hypertension, hepatitis B, heart disease, prenatal health, oral health, and mental health, including depression. Although New York City has many health care services, the health center’s patients cannot access these services because of language, cultural, and financial barriers.
Since 1971, CBWCHC has flourished and developed as a federally qualified health center with locations in Lower Manhattan and in Flushing, Queens. All health center sites are open seven days per week in order to meet community demands for services.
As a leading provider of comprehensive, primary care services for Asian Americans in the metropolitan area, CBWCHC provides services in internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, dental care, and mental health. In addition, the health center provides specialty consultations for allergies, cardiology, urology, infectious diseases and endocrinology. The health center also offers social work services, health education, health insurance enrollment assistance, and care management to link patients to comprehensive care and community services.
CBWCHC’s bilingual and bicultural staff work tirelessly to provide quality affordable health care and education and advocate on behalf of the health and social needs of underserved Asian Americans. No patient is turned away for lack of ability to pay. In 2009, the Health Center served more than 37,000 patients for 240,000 medical, dental, mental health, social work, and health education visits.
The health center is strongly committed to delivering high quality care to its patients. CBWCHC monitors the community’s health care needs through formal needs assessments, patient surveys, and participation in community health and social service coalitions. The health center also involves consumers in program planning and evaluation through a consumer advisory committee for women’s health and a teen advisory committee for adolescent health. Patients are also encouraged to provide feedback on health center services through patient satisfaction surveys and patient suggestion boxes that are displayed prominently in waiting areas.
The health center monitors its quality of care through a comprehensive quality assurance and quality improvement (QA/QI) program, which includes monthly monitoring and review meetings attended by clinical and administrative leaders. With the adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) and electronic dental records, the health center has been able to improve its data collection and reporting to support its QA/QI activities. Disease registries for diabetes, asthma, and hepatitis B have been established in the EMR to better monitor patient care outcomes.
The high quality of care provided at CBWCHC is well recognized. The entire internal medicine group of 20 physicians was granted three year recognition as of May 2009 by the National Committee for Quality Assurance/American Diabetes Association Diabetes Physician Recognition Program. The health center also received the Affinity Health Plan 2008 Global Quality Assurance Reporting Requirement (QAAR) Performance award, the only community health center in New York to achieve this distinction.
In December 2010, CBWCHC received Level III Patient-Centered Medical Home
CBWCHC will strive to serve as a medical home for the Asian American community, providing comprehensive, accessable, coordinated, and patient-centered care. Certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). As a Level 3 patient-centered medical home, the health center promotes long-term relationships between patients and their primary care physicians in place of episodic care based on illness or patient complaints. Primary care physicians take responsibility for the patient's full range of needs and arrange for care with other providers and staff. Such coordinated care leads to greater efficiency and improved quality of care. The patient-centered medical home improves access to care through extended hours and direct communication among patients, primary care physicians, and other providers.
CBWCHC maintains high quality of care by offering health career training for its staff, and internship and mentoring programs for high school, college and graduate school students. Frontline staff participate in a six month on-the-job training program in areas such as medical terminology, medical billing and coding, medical office procedures, computer skills including electronic health records, understanding the health care system, and customer service and communication skills.
Other training programs offered by the CBWCHC include Project AHEAD, established in 1975, which has trained more than 450 college students;
The health center is strongly committed to delivering high quality care to its patients. many are now working as physicians, dentists, social workers, and other health professionals throughout the country. Currently, the health center is a core partner with New York University School of Medicine in the Center for the Study of Asian American Health, the only research and training institute in the United States dedicated to reducing health disparities in Asian American health.
The Asian American community is one of the fastest growing communities in the New York metropolitan area, growing by 54% between 1990 and 2000. CBWCHC reaches out to the community to link uninsured community members to services through health fairs, articles and radio programs published in the Chinese and Korean language media, health education workshops, bilingual health education materials, and a bilingual web site.
CBWCHC will strive to serve as a medical home for the Asian American community, providing comprehensive, accessible, coordinated, and patient-centered care.