Free Chinatown Health Fair Draws Crowd, Smiles

Helen Lam, RN, PhD, right of the patient in orange, translates a permission form while Pritzker medical students perform screenings at the Chinatown Health Fair in Chinatown Square. (Photo: David Christopher)

Helen Lam, RN, PhD, right of the patient in orange, translates a permission form while Pritzker medical students perform screenings at the Chinatown Health Fair in Chinatown Square. (Photo: David Christopher)

Asian immigrants lined up early for a free University of Chicago Medicine health fair July 26 in Chinatown. Organizers, who began setting up tents at 9 a.m., urged residents to return at 10 a.m.

No one moved.

“They didn’t want to lose their place in line,” said Helen Lam, RN, PhD, who doubled as a nurse and translator. “They don’t know how to speak English. But they know `University of Chicago Medical Center.’”

Their trust was well-founded. Some 30 UChicago Medicine volunteers – an interdepartmental group spanning physicians, lab technologists, students from the Pritzker School of Medicine, clinical chemists and more – provided free lab screenings to about 100 visitors during the 2 ½-hour fair. Attendees were tested for cholesterol, HDL, glucose and Hepatitis C.

A quartet of collaborators behind the Chinatown Health Fair, from left: Karen Kim, MD, MS, Professor of Medicine; Steven Wong, PhD, and David Koch, PhD, of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry; and Jerry Yeo, PhD, Professor of Pathology. (Photo: David Christopher)

A quartet of collaborators behind the Chinatown Health Fair, from left: Karen Kim, MD, MS, Professor of Medicine; Steven Wong, PhD, and David Koch, PhD, of the American Association for Clinical Chemistry; and Jerry Yeo, PhD, Professor of Pathology. (Photo: David Christopher)

Bilingual fliers and newspaper ads helped draw the crowd for the event, held in tandem with the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) meeting at McCormick Place. Bilingual staff members paired with English-speaking colleagues translated registration forms into Mandarin and Cantonese for patients.

Ten students, many of Asian descent, drew big smiles from patients between finger-prick tests. Under the direction of Jerry Yeo, PhD, and Edward Leung, PhD, clinical technologists analyzed results on the spot. Jonathan Liao, MD, Yingshan Shi, MD, and John Yoon, MD, explained the results to participants.

A non-Asian student fluent in Mandarin “was a huge hit with the crowd,” said Karen Kim, MD, MS, Professor of Medicine.

This health fair was led by the UChicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Office of Community Engagement and Cancer Disparities (OCECD) and the Department of Pathology. Supporters included the Urban Health Initiative, the AACC, the Chicago Department of Public Health and diagnostics companies. Members of the Clinical Chemistry staff, Pediatrics faculty, the Department of Medicine and Social Sciences administration also served as volunteers.

The OCECD hosts annual community health events and oversees the Partnership for Healthy Asians to assist this underserved population.

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