Chinese Patients Want To Know More About Their Illness & Treatment

Written by Susan Dicosola, MS, CMPE – Executive Director of Queens Medical Associates

I am both privileged and elated to have attended “When East Meets West” – Health Care Professionals Cultural Competency Forum on 7/31/19.

As usual, Dr Cynthia X. Pan organized a terrific half-day session for professionals to cap off another 4-day intense training program for local volunteers. That 30-hour program, titled “Chinese Hospice and Palliative Care Volunteer Training” was conducted to prepare Chinese hospice and palliative care volunteers to help local agencies serve more Chinese patients and their families. 

I walked into the final afternoon session with my colleagues from QMA, Pavel Groysman, D.O., Raisa Matayev RPA-C, Ariella Aharon, LMSW, and Chen Lin amid a buzz of high energy and warm hospitality offered by the faculty and volunteers.  Some of the volunteers had traveled from Cupertino with Sandy Chen-Stokes, RN, MSN to participate in this program.  The forum, sponsored in part by MJHS and the Chinese American Independent Practitioner Association or CAIPA, represented by Peggy Sheng, sought to dispel myths about what Chinese patients want to know about their illness and treatment.  Sandy Chen Stokes led off the lively 3-part forum presenting a model of competent communities, competent professionals and competent systems for addressing the needs of diverse populations. How do you know what a patient wants to know about their illness?  Its simple –  ask them! Many helpful hints were shared during the talks.  For instance, if using a translator, prepare that translator for the nature of the discussion about to take place.  Explain to the translator that families may become emotional and that the translator should stay in his or her role.

Sounds obvious once said, doesn’t it? But we needed someone like Sandy to make it so.

We sat in on a terrific workshop called Heart to Heart Café in which playing cards become the basis for sharing the most important values to each of us.  Using this simple tool it became easier to express what each of us felt vital to our peace of mind and highest priorities in life.  We are eager to take this training back to our fellows at QMA and implement what we’ve learned.

Many thanks to the organizers, and especially Sandy Chen Stokes, RN, MSN, who we now count among our cherished friends and with whom we’ll be building community.


Written By: Dr. Pavel Groysman, DO, FACP – Director of Supportive Oncology at Queens Medical Associates

New York City exposes us to an amazing multitude of cultures. We are constantly presented with a kaleidoscope of customs and cultural practices mixing and melting together in everyday life. Still, there are nuances that one cannot understand and absorb by simple observation.

“When East Meets West” brilliantly shed light on issues that arise when dealing with serious illness and end of life in diverse communities. The impressive expert panel answered difficult questions on delicate subject matter. I refined my preexisting understanding of patient’s and family’s needs.

Job well done! I’m grateful to the esteemed organizers since such events help medical professionals care for people in a more personalized fashion, with a stronger cultural awareness.

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