May 13, 2013

Carrie Bebermeyer

SLU Med Students Care for Chinese Community in St. Louis

Health Fair Held to Overcome Access Obstacles, Language Barriers

Saint Louis University medical students along with their counterparts at Washington University recently held a health fair for the Chinese community in St. Louis.

Under the guidance of physicians, medical student volunteers provided screenings for blood sugar, cholesterol, osteoporosis, hepatitis B, posture and vision, as well as blood pressure checks and body mass index and fat analysis. In addition, health care providers were available for consultation about skin, heart, kidney, respiratory, neurological and breast health, as well as smoking cessation and stroke and dementia prevention.

Under the guidance of physicians, SLU medical students helped perform blood sugar, cholesterol and vision screenings, among other services.

“This is the second year we’ve held this event, and we had over 100 participants come through the fair,” said event organizer and second year SLU medical student Justin Yu. “The most requested tests were for glucose and cholesterol. We performed those tests for around 50 people.

“A major issue among the population at the fair was that many were under or uninsured, which, combined with the language barrier, makes access to care difficult.”

SLU’s Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA) members volunteered at the event.

“One of the biggest issues for those who don’t speak English fluently is that the language barrier can be an obstacle in receiving health care,” said second year SLU medical student Minying Gu. Gu and Yu serve as co-presidents of APAMSA.

“There are a lot of Chinese immigrants here, and for physicians to understand these patients and be sure they’re getting the entire story of their health issue, it’s important to have someone on hand who can communicate.”

To assist with this, organizers invited translators, as well as several physicians who spoke Mandarin. One SLU volunteer said he was pleased to see that the event had been successful in improving health for its participants.

"A man and his daughter remembered me from last year,” said second year SLU medical student, Kevin Chow. “The daughter came over to me from the cardiology table to thank me and told me that they were following my advice about her dad's hypertension and saying that he's doing better now. I thought that was pretty cool."

Also sponsored by Missouri Baptist Medical Center and St. Louis College of Pharmacy, the health fair was held at Light of Christ Lutheran Chinese Mission.

Established in 1836, Saint Louis University School of Medicine has the distinction of awarding the first medical degree west of the Mississippi River. The school educates physicians and biomedical scientists, conducts medical research, and provides health care on a local, national and international level. Research at the school seeks new cures and treatments in five key areas: cancer, liver disease, heart/lung disease, aging and brain disease, and infectious disease.

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