COVID-19: Asian Health Services Report From the Front Lines


I am writing to give you today’s update from Asian Health Services (AHS), the community health center and safety net for 50,000 AAPI patients in 14 Asian languages, throughout Alameda County. I want to share with you our front line experiences and perspectives, from the patients, our health care workers, and our broader community. I also want to ask for your help during this urgent health crisis.

In these past weeks we’ve seen both great resilience and great need. Our community is faced with challenges of COVID-19 that are hitting everyone on the national level, with a focus on the need for tests, an emphasis on safety protective gear to prevent transmission (PPEs or Personal Protective Equipment), and addressing the anxiety and isolation caused by the pandemic and Shelter in Place. Our AAPI community is in a particular nexus of vulnerability as we are disproportionately affected by language barriers and escalating anti-Asian racism. There are many stories of courage, and also stark examples of vulnerable patients needing care and support. Our teams are working day and night to address clinical needs, creating a new and intensive tele-visit mode of patient support and also providing critical emotional and social services counseling that are increasing every day.

Just this week, we helped a woman who attempted suicide, triggered by being kicked off insurance, financial pressure, and family discord. We helped a parent with respiratory symptoms, who walked in carrying two small children, and did not have the means to self-isolate at home from her other family members. Youth from our teen program have desperately requested help to get hot meals because their only sources, their schools, were closed. We also helped a young man who was just diagnosed with HIV and who was petrified to go out for supplies, given his compromised immune system. AHS is here, providing health care, comfort, education, information, reassurance, problem solving, and advocacy to all who need it, all in 14 Asian languages.

Two weeks ago, AHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. George Lee and his team of providers began going at warp speed to forge the AHS Telephone Visit Project. Harnessing their expertise and sheer will, within days, our clinics began transforming daily in person visits to virtual phone care. Telephone Visits are a lifesaving measure that enables us to triage and treat in language and culture, while protecting our patients and healthcare workers from transmission. While the majority of visits can be conducted through the phone, we continue to be here to treat those patients who need in-person care.

In response to the COVID -19 crisis, AHS is in urgent need of protective equipment such as masks, face shields, and mobile health units. Our procurement staff is in close contact with county, state, and federal agencies as well as private sources of supply in the US and China. It also needs funds to pay for these extra supplies as well as mounting labor costs. We have therefore started a campaign to raise $1,000,000. We are grateful to report that within just a week and a half, our generous donors have already reached half our goal. Your donations will allow AHS to provide the following services:

$500 will provide emergency and hardship support for one family for five days;

$1,000 will equip three care providers with protective equipment for three weeks;

$5,000 will equip five care providers with IT devices (e.g., mobile phones, IPADS) needed for Telehealth services;

$10,000 will purchase a mobile health unit that can provide services to two exam rooms at a time.

Please go to our website and donate. We are working daily with our partners and colleagues in government, philanthropy, in the private and policy sectors to leverage all our collective strategies and power in service to the most vulnerable. We cannot do any of it without you. Asian Health Services is here on the front lines because of you.

Please stay in touch. Please donate.

On behalf of our AHS Team and Patients,

In gratitude,

Sherry Hirota
Chief Executive Officer


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