Archive for October, 2015

Garden Grove, California (November 14, 2015) — Did you know?  Among all ethnic women in the U.S., that Vietnamese-American women have some of the highest rates of cervical and breast cancers?  The reasons for this are multi-fold.  Namely, cervical cancer is predominantly, a result of a sexually transmitted virus that causes a chronic infection and irritation to the female cervix. This prevalent virus is called the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

HPV is transmitted sexually from men to women.  Because HPV is endemic in the Asian Pacific Islander community (and in particular, among Vietnamese Americans), it is the cause for the high incidence of cervical cancer in this ethnic minority community.

PAP cell changes

To address this higher prevalence of cervical and breast cancers in the Vietnamese community, the Viet Namese Community of Orange County (VNCOC, Inc.) is hosting an innovative one day, free cervical and breast cancer screening health fair called “See, Test and Treat,” targeting higher risk women who are low-income and/or uninsured on Saturday, November 14th, from 8:30am to 3:00pm at their Southland Health Center.  

Located in Garden Grove at 9862 Chapman Avenue, Suite B, cross-street Brookhurst Street, (next door to the 24 hour CVS Pharmacy), Southland Health Center is where many ethnic enclaves converge:   Little Saigon, Korea-town-Garden Grove, Santa Ana (Latino) and Little Arabia, Anaheim (Muslim).  Hence, Southland Health Center is in a prime location to serve the healthcare needs of these richly diverse immigrant communities in the O.C.

See, Test and Treat is an innovative community health program offered by VNCOC in collaboration with the College of American Pathologists (CAP)  and CAP Foundation.  It is made possible by a generous grant from CAP Foundation and in-kind donations of industry sponsors including CooperSurgical, Hologic, Pathology, Inc.; Huntington Beach Hospital and Alinea Medical Imaging.


See, Test and Treat is an “all-inclusive, under one roof” project.  Within the span of 7 hours, low-income, uninsured women will have the unique opportunity (by appointment preferably) to be examined by Southland Health Center primary care providers, lead by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mai-Phương Nguyễn (internal medicine).  The PCP care team will take relevant histories then perform Clinical Breast Exams and Pelvic exams including Papanicolaou (Pap) smears to screen for abnormal cervical cells.


These PAP smears will be turned over to an on-site pathology team headed by Dr. Sĩ Văn Nguyễn of Huntington Beach Hospital.   Within 90-120 minutes process, Dr. Sĩ and his pathology team will be able to give the patients their Pap smear results.  Upon request, he is able to review their abnormal slides and cells under microscopes with the patients.

PAP smear take

It is estimated that 10% of all Pap smears will yield an abnormal Pap result.   If an abnormal Pap is identified, there will be 2 volunteer gynecologists (Drs. Thomas Trí Quách and Kevin Khải Tiêu) on hand to further work-up the abnormal Pap smears.  These gynecologists will be able to perform more in-depth testing via colposcopy and biopsy any abnormalities found.  The biopsies can thereafter be prepped and reviewed by the pathology team on-site to ascertain their severity.

For the women whose Pap smears yield worrisome findings, Drs. Quách and Tiêu will see them in their offices for treatment on follow-up.  For those who are uninsured, VNCOC’s certified health insurance counselors will help to enroll them into a health insurance plan for which they qualify, such as Medicaid or Covered California.  This will enable them to access other advanced surgical therapies and treatment options as indicated, as well as essential preventive, primary care services.

While the scheduled patients await their Pap smear results, they will also have the opportunity to get free breast cancer screening mammograms.  In partnership with Alinea Medical Imaging based in Santa Ana, and funded by the “Every Woman Counts” program, those women from ages 40-64, can update their mammograms.  Alinea Medical Imaging’s radiology team headed by CEO and Medical Director Dr. Monish Laxpati, MD will read all the mammograms.  Southland Health Center’s primary care team will follow up on any abnormal findings on these mammograms.

According to the latest October 2015 recommendations by the American Cancer Society, women ages 40-50 years old should consider getting a mammogram only if they are at higher risk for breast cancer.  Higher risk factors for breast disease include: family or personal history of breast cancer, smoking, obesity or history of consuming high saturated-fat diets.  Also, the women should not have had a mammogram within the last year (i.e. since November 2014).

Also while waiting for their Pap results, the women patients (and their families) can be educated by the lead physicians, Drs. Mai-Phương Nguyễn (fluent in Spanish and Vietnamese), Thomas Trí Quách and Kevin Khai Tiêu (both speak Vietnamese and English).  These patient advocates will give 10-15 minutes health ‘charlas’ or in-language talks on healthy diet, nutrition, smoking cessation and exercise in addition to presentations on the importance of regular breast and cervical cancer screenings via mammograms and Pap smears.

Orange County is home to the largest Overseas Vietnamese community in the world. The Southland Health Center is a NCQA Level III Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) that is distinctly qualified to coordinate the care of complex patients in a culturally-competent and linguistically-appropriate manner.

The Vietnamese Community of Orange County (VNCOC, Inc) is a non-profit health and human agency that was founded in 1979 to meet the vast social needs of the influx of Vietnamese refugees coming to Southern California following the end of the Viet Nam War post-1975. Since 1997, VNCOC has expanded its social services to include primary, dental and mental healthcare services to meet the growing healthcare needs of this large immigrant population.  In the post-Affordable Care Act era since 2012, VNCOC’s Southland Health Center serves all-comers, regardless of insurance or immigration status or ethnicity.

To schedule an appointment at See, Test and Treat Women’s Health Fair, please call  714.640.3470 or email info@thevncoc.org.   For more information, visit http://www.theVNCOC.org. 

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Fountain Valley, California (11/22/15)  — On Sunday, November 22, 2015, Orange County residents are invited to the attend the second Walk With A Doc (known as hashtag, #WWAD on social media) community health program, spearheaded by lead physician, Dr. Mai-Phương Nguyễn. Interested walkers meet at Mile Square Park’s Freedom Lake (located at the intersection of Edinger and Euclid) at 8:30am. Equipped with a good pair of walking shoes, Dr. Mai-Phương Nguyễn (former Chief Medical Officer of VNCOC’s Southland Health Center), and friends will lead walkers (of all ages, ethnicity and physical capacities) to walk for 45-60 minutes at their own pace.


Former California State Assemblyman, Lou Correa came to support the inaugural Orange County #WWAD at the #Walk4Refugees event, held at Mile Square Park, October 18, 2015.


The impetus to start Walk With A Doc in Orange County came after Dr. Mai-Phương attended NEPO’s Building Healthy Communities leadership conference in Riverside, California in September 2015.  NEPO (short for Network of Ethnic Physician Organizations) is a conglomeration of over 58 ethnic physician organizations throughout California whose primary mandate is to advance health equity for communities of color, most of whom experience greater health disparities and difficulties accessing affordable healthcare.

Although Dr. Mai-Phương has been attending NEPO leadership summits for nearly a decade and had heard of the 10 year old #WWAD program in years past, it was not until she became Chief Medical Officer of VNCOC’s Southland Health Center in 2015 did she have a platform to coordinate this efficacious, community and public health program to bring its benefits to Orange County. Since leaving VNCOC, Dr. MP Nguyen continues to host the monthly #WWAD-OC program.

The 2015 statistics for #WWAD shows that of the nationwide participants who have committed to a regular #WWAD program in their respective communities:

  • 97% enjoy the refreshing concept of pairing with a local physician expert and connect outside of the traditional medical office/hospital setting
  • 97% feel more educated about their health since joining a local WWAD program
  • 79.4% are exercising more since starting the WWAD program
  • 78.8% feel empowered in their interactions with their doctors and healthcare providers.

In addition, Dr. Mai-Phương, who attended the University of Southern California (USC) medical school and completed an internal medicine residency at UCLA, is also a local expert on mental health disorders among ethnic communities.  In particular, she served 10 years in East L.A. (in the aftermath of the 1992 Rodney King and Los Angeles Riots), attending to predominantly Latino immigrants who escaped political strife in Central American countries like Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and México. It’s worth noting that she minored in Spanish Literature from the UCI-undergraduate and is fluent and multi-culturally competent in Spanish and Vietnamese traditions.

Earlier at the turn of the century, she also lived three years and worked in the Pacific Island of Guam, Saipan and Tinian. For the past four years, she has returned to her Southern California “home” Little Saigon community where her aging parents have lived since 1988.  In private practice in the O.C. since 2011, she has become a local expert on the unique primary care and mental health needs of Vietnamese American patients–a community comprised predominantly of refugee immigrants.

Dr. Mai-Phương envisions the #WWAD  as having a fifth mental health advantage: decreasing the social isolation of monolingual first generation or recent emigrated seniors who she has found to be ‘languishing’ in their adult-children’s homes.  “Many of our beloved elders do not feel integrated into the greater American mainstream society.  Being Limited English Proficient (LEP),  those who retire from their factory, assembly jobs or nail salon work (where they never had to learn to integrate), unless they are attending to grandchildren, many of them suffer in silence, cooped up in their senior apartments or in their adult-children’s homes,” says Dr. Mai-Phương.

“Meanwhile, their more integrated (perhaps 1.5 or 2.0 generation) adult children lead busy, Socal lives and do not have time to adequately attend to their aging parents growing healthcare needs.  Many of these aging seniors become lonely, depressed, anxious. the common theme is they ‘don’t want to bother their busy Americanized adult-children. Slowly, they become disaffected, physically and mentally!” remarks Dr. Mai-Phương.

A community-based, public health program such as #WWAD would be “instrumental in coaxing these vulnerable, isolated seniors to venture outside the comfort zones of their apartments and houses and come walk with a culturally-competent and linguistically-appropriate doctor,” states Dr. Mai-Phương Nguyễn.

Since its inception in October 2015, every month, Dr. Mai-Phương and her 2 community health doctora-champions, Dras. Helen Hiền Trần (Patient Safety and Compliance Officer for Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center in Downey, California) and Teresa Flores, MD (CMO of Share Our Selves, SOS Community Health Center in Santa Ana and Cost Mesa) host a #WWAD event.


Las 3 doctora-amigas-community health champs who host #WWAD-OC monthy: (left to right) Dras. Helen Hiền Trân, MP Nguyễn and Teresa Flores, MD.  All 3 are fluent in Spanish and English.  Dras. Helen and MP also are fluent in Vietnamese.

They begin at 8:30-9am with healthy snacks, stretches and a health charla. During this warm-up, the “Doc-of-the-day” gives a 10-15 minute health charla or chat about a news-worthy community health topic, bringing the latest evidence-based research in science, health and technology to help excite participants of all ages to commit to walking and improving their wellness.  For the price of a good pair of walking shoes, Dr. Mai-Phương believes that the Return On Investment (or “ROI”) of this #WWAD program will be exponential for all of Orange County members–beginning here, in Little Saigon.

“Stretch. Load. WALK!”


Dr. Mai-Phương invites colleagues from medical organizations such as the Orange County Medical Association (OCMA), The Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA) and other community-based health and wellness groups to build a tidal wave of support and expand the #WWAD program. Furthermore, she envisions partnering with health-conscientious businesses to sponsor the walks to build a cross-sectional community-health collaborative. By including local, small businesses and respective ethnic Chambers of Commerce to endorse and actually, Walk With A Doc, Dr. Mai-Phương hopes to Build Healthy Communities, together!

For more information, visit: http://www.WalkWithADoc.org.

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