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Hong Liu, PhD, Making Chicago a Healthier City for Asian Americans

About this episode:

To fully engage Chicago’s medically underserved Chinese and other Asian communities and to help them address their own health issues, Dr. Hong Liu’s Midwest Asian Health Association reaches out in Mandarin, Cantonese and other languages—and does so in culturally appropriate ways.

The result is better access to healthcare for many low-income, often new-immigrant minorities who experience certain health problems in higher prevalence than the general population including hepatitis, liver cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and mental illness.

She and her team engage people to participate in education, screening and diagnostic services, and counseling. They also partner with hospitals, medical professionals, medical schools and drug companies to connect community members with care. Too often, she says, many don’t know what’s available, and for cultural reasons they don’t access the systems that are available to them. In many cases, the emergency department is their first stop for healthcare, and their diseases are too advanced by the time they seek it.

She talked about how her community has faced increased discrimination and harassment due to misinformation about COVID. She gives a more accurate look into the community’s nature as she describes how Chicago’s Asian-American community raised money, then used it to provide personal protective equipment to hospitals and clinics all over the Chicagoland area. Members of the community felt strongly that they wanted to demonstrate their pride and gratitude to be a part of the United States. The management of many of the hospitals sent letters of thanks, letting them know their gesture was most welcome and appreciated.

Dr Liu’s work has earned the respect of healthcare providers, the Asian-American community, and local, state and federal health agencies. In 2016 she was invited to the White House by President Barack Obama in recognition of her work.

Dr. Liu has a PhD in Public Policy Analysis from the University of Illinois in Chicago.