Nobody puts on a health fair quite like Vietnamese Community Health (VCH) at UCLA. Combine a dash of holistic outreach, a comprehensive approach to health care, and a handful of well-informed students desperate to give back to their community, and you have a recipe for a club that is changing lives. For the impact VCH has made on both the residents of Los Angeles and Orange County, the UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows are proud to award VCH with the Spring 2016 Mongelli Award for Excellence and Civic Engagement.
Vietnamese Community Health, a Community Service Commission project, works with health care providers in Orange County to provide services to those who would not have access to them otherwise. During their community site visits, VCH offers screening for hypertension, cholesterol exams, general health information, and at times, access to massage therapists and acupuncturists. The student organization’s biweekly meetings, biweekly health sites, and quarterly health fairs are made possible by 12 staff directors and 70 general volunteers.
With an ultimate goal to reach and provide health care to those without insurance, VCH understands both the physical and cultural barriers to health care and has adjusted its services accordingly. For example, before their quarterly health fairs, the group makes sure to promote the event with flyers written in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese in order to ensure language is not a barrier to a patient’s attendance. While the reasons behind not having insurance range from lack of citizenship, to resources, to language skills, the students in VCH make sure they treat all of their patients with the dignity and respect every person deserves. VCH serves 150-200 mostly uninsured patients at each health fair.
“Health care is not a luxury, it’s a basic human right,” states fourth-year External Vice President Andrew Nguyen. He sees lack of cultural representation in health professions as a major hurdle facing the Vietnamese and other minority communities in the area and also as one of the reasons he believes cultural community health organizations are so impactful.
Audrey Tran, President of VCH, has witnessed cultural barriers affect her own family’s utilization of health care. “There is a cultural stigma where people don’t seek health care until it’s too late. This is why [VCH] believes promoting preventative care is very important.” To promote preventative health care, they recently implemented health education booths, with information about various health issues like diet, exercise, and the value of sunscreen for proper skin care.
From site to site, VCH sees continuity among its patients but is still looking to grow and improve. In the future, it aims to reach out more to the Latino communities of Orange County. The organization is collaborating with various other student health organizations like Latino Student Health Project (LSHP), Latino Health Access, and the Donation of Organs & Tissues group(DoT Org) to get more working translators for health fairs and improve outreach to communities in need. In addition, VCH is looking to secure other medical machines like electrocardiograms (EKGs) to provide more comprehensive health screening for its patients.
If you want to help make a positive impact on the health of those in your community and are on Tuesdays from 6-7pm, consider joining VCH and furthering its cause. For more information and updates from VCH, follow the organization on Facebook, its website, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.