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Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County

Asian Pacific Health Care Venture: Helping Their Community Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

aphcv-1Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, Inc. (APHCV) was founded in 1986 to bridge the gap in health care for underserved Asians in Los Angeles. Today, APHCV is much more than a doctor’s office, but a resource for many Asians to access health care support and resources. APHCV provides health care programs that support patients outside of the exam room to help them meet their health care goals and promote a healthy lifestyle.

Like many Americans, APHCV patients struggle with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and the daily challenges of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Despite having a lower body weight, the prevalence of diabetes among Asian Americans is three times greater than non-Hispanic Whites and the rate of developing diabetes among Asians has increased from 5.9% to 9.9% in Los Angeles County between from 1997 to 2011. These rate increases are due, in part, to changes in food choices – from traditional plant and fish based diets to foods with more animal protein, fats, and processed carbohydrates.

Part of APHCV’s health education and advocacy is changing the relationship our patients and even our staff have on the food they eat. At the APHCV-El Monte/Rosemead Health Center, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease Workshops provide a series of interactive activities in Chinese and Vietnamese. With most participants being monolingual and recently immigrated, an important activity in each series includes a cooking demonstration where health educators teach healthy recipes and introduce participants to new foods like replacing white rice with low-carb cauliflower rice. Analysis conducted by the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance (APIOPA) found that popular Asian drinks like boba tea can have as much as 80 grams (22 teaspoons) of sugar in a single drink, compared to the daily recommendation of only 25 grams. APHCV health educators teach participants low sugar alternatives like smoothies with fresh fruits, and even vegetables like kale and spinach, blended in almond milk, which many participants are introduced to for the first time.

Many patients express the difficulties they have in purchasing and using fresh fruits and vegetables so health educators teach workshop participants how to grow their own. A small garden bed at the APHCV-El Monte/Rosemead Health Center is home to kale, Chinese broccoli, lettuce, broccoli, chard, tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs. Participants learn how to tend the garden and get information on how they can grow their own fruits and vegetables in even the smallest of places. Another teaching moment: how to use herbs to flavor meals and reduce the amount of salt used in food.

APHCV’s commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles extends to our staff as well. Partnering with APIOPA, APHCV staff participates in the Roots Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Program, where they get fresh, sustainably grown, and culturally relevant produce. By supporting local farmers, the program cuts down on carbon emissions by reducing the need to ship food across the country and participants receive twice monthly deliveries of healthy, organic produce, and even tasty recipes and tips from the farmers. It makes it easier to coach our patients into adopting healthy lifestyles when our staff has adopted healthy lifestyles for themselves and their families.Seeing your doctor is just the first step in the continuum of care we provide at APHCV. Changing behaviors and adopting a healthy lifestyle is hard work and can be stressful for patients, especially when they experience language barriers and acculturation stress. With creative programs and culturally sensitive staff, APHCV is more than a doctors’ office, it’s a health care home for Asians and the surrounding community.

Asian Pacific Health Care Venture, Inc. (www.aphcv.org) is a nonprofit, federally-qualified health center that provides culturally competent health education and primary care services to over 13,400 patients annually, more than 47% of whom are uninsured. APHCV provides over 48,500 medical and mental health visits each year in multiple Asian languages, in addition to English and Spanish.If your clinic or organization is interested in participating in the Roots CSA Program (www.rootscsa.org), contact Kyle Tsukahira, APIOPA Program Manager at (213) 553-1800 ext. 404 or ktsukahira@apiopa.org.