Open Access: Doctor Opens Community Health Center

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In 2008, Dr. Angela, assistant clinical professor at the UCLA Department of Family Medicine, began a community health program at Korean Resource Center (KRC) with a group of Korean American medical students. Monthly clinics are held that provide individual consultations to low-income uninsured Korean Americans, many of whom have been diagnosed with illnesses.

Since beginning last year, the clinic has served more than 100 community members ranging in age from eight to 89 years. The stories that Dr. Angela shares is the true testament to the need and value of these clinics: an elder gentlemen who was diagnosed with diabetes more than 20 years ago but had never gone to a physician because he was uninsured; a woman with cancer who had never received treatment; community members with high cholesterol and blood pressure not being able to afford medicine; and a woman who lost everything and with whom the medical students and Dr. Angela talked to for over an hour. “If we had not been there that day, it is plausible that she may have taken her own life,” said Dr. Angela. Affordable and culturally and linguistically appropriate psychiatric services are lacking in the Korean American community.

The vision of the clinic began several years ago, while Dr. Angela was volunteering as a medical doctor at a low-income clinic serving indigent immigrants. She saw that those with limited English proficiency and literacy have additional barriers to acquiring adequate health care. A few years later, things begin to fall in place as she networked with KRC, which has similar interest in building an affordable health care clinic for the community. Further inspired by the support of her department and the energy of medical students (Yoon H., Kenny K., and Eddie L. to name a few), the clinic was formed and is continuing to grow. “The students have a tremendous passion to serve the Korean American community. My hope is that after they finish school, they will have a bigger vision of serving the community,” said Dr. Angela.

“This work gives me energy and satisfaction,” said Dr. Angela. “I, too, came here as an immigrant with my parents. We have gone through many of the issues our community faces, and healthcare is one of them. I’m grateful to be at a place where I can give to the community and make a positive difference.”

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