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How a Brooklyn hospital is working to represent the community's growing Asian population

Maimonides Medical Center working to represent area's growing Asian community
Maimonides Medical Center working to represent area's growing Asian community 02:30

NEW YORK - One Brooklyn hospital is making an effort to represent the growing Asian community it serves.

Maimonides Medical Center is at the doorstep of one of the city's fastest growing Asian populations.

Asian Patient Services in Brooklyn

The hospital neighbors Sunset Park to the West and Bensonhurst to the South. Both areas are considered part of the many Chinatowns of Brooklyn.

Hospital staff say with that comes a responsibility to address the growing community's health care needs.

"We had one of the first population health department in the city," says Jenny Tsang-Quinn, Senior Vice President of Population Health at Maimonides. "So if someone speaks a dialect and we see that population growing, we want to make sure that there are doctors and nurses who speak that dialect so that the patients are able to understand what's happening with them while they are with us."

Hospital staff say it has one of the most robust Asian Patient Services in the city, and among the highest number of Asian physicians in the Tri-State Area.

Maimonides Medical Center committed to hiring staff that represent local communities

Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders make up about 19% of Maimonides staff. It's part of a commitment from leadership to hire employees that accurately represent the communities this hospital serves.

Gennie Sanchez, Senior Vice President for Supply Chain at the network, is also one of the leaders of the Asian American Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group. It's made up of dozens of staff members dedicated to celebrating the many cultures they represent. 

"It provides a sense of belonging for our employees where they can express themselves, and, you know, come here and feel comfortable to come to our leaders and promote cultural awareness and sensitivity," Sanchez, a first generation Filipino-American tells CBS New York's Hannah Kliger.

One of the hospital's many physicians is Dr. Mary Lee-Wong, an allergy and immunology specialist. She says cultural competency can improve the quality of care.

"I just had a patient with anaphylaxis to incense, and incense was very important to this woman's life because this is how she prays and shows respect for her ancestors," Dr. Lee-Wong says.

Then there's Dr. Myung Bae who takes his love of medicine to some of the most remote places in the world as a wilderness medicine doctor.

He describes the specialty as "essentially medicine that is practiced with very limited resources in any setting."

His skills allow him to lead expeditions to places like Mount Kilimanjaro or Everest Base Camp. But his skills come in handy in the emergency room, too, where he treats patients in this concrete jungle. 

"I feel like that kind of principle of practice in wilderness medicine really applies here, even though the volume and the setting is different," he tells Kliger.

The hospital says it serves more than a quarter million patients annually, and seeing who is coming through these doors is important. 

Have a story idea or tip in Brooklyn? Email Hannah by CLICKING HERE.

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