LIVINGSTON, NJ – Recently, mayors Robert Parisi of West Orange and Livingston’s Michael Rieber participated in a grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Center for Asian Health.

Rieber, a doctor, participated in the Chinese Health Initiative. More than 70 people attended the post-Chinese New Year celebration, including Chinese community leaders, senior administration members, physicians and staff. 

Dr. John F. Bonamo, president and chief executive officer of Saint Barnabas Medical Center, explained that the program was developed to meet the needs of the rapidly growing Chinese-American population in this area, which reports cultural and language barriers as being obstacles to getting good healthcare. New Jersey has the fourth largest Asian population in the U.S, with a 34 percent increase in the past decade.

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“The goal of the Chinese Health Initiative is to offer culturally sensitive medical care, along with providing individualized support, translation and navigation for our patients,” Bonamo said. “Saint Barnabas Medical Center is fortunate to have a number of Asian primary care physicians and specialists on the Saint Barnabas Medical Center Medical Staff. This program will work collaboratively with our community physicians to benefit all Chinese patients.”

Bonamo then introduced Dr. Su Wang, medical director of the Center for Asian Health, to discuss the program. Most recently, Wang was the assistant director of Medical Affairs at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center (CBWCHC), which is nationally known for its work in Asian-American health in New York City. A practicing internist, Wang discussed the vision of this community-based initiative designed to create a bridge between patients and providers and improve health.

“Our area boasts so many well-trained and high-quality physicians, yet people are travelling to New York to seek care. Our patient navigator, Chenxia Duan, is available to assist patients facing language and cultural barriers, find the care they need closer to home,” she said.

Wang also discussed the increased risk of certain diseases in Asians, such as stomach and liver cancer, Hepatitis B, diabetes and osteoporosis.

She said, “Many of these diseases are preventable, yet Asians have low rates of getting preventative care. We are hosting health seminars and community events to mobilize the community to be proactive about their health and turn these statistics around.”