March 4, 2008

[Archive] Stacy Lavilla
Director of Communications
(510) 272-9536 x110

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 4, 2008 – Sunly Lao of Lowell, Massachusetts has been selected as a grand prize winner in OUR STORIES: Health and Wellness in the AAPI Community, a national essay contest sponsored by the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO). Winners will be honored at AAPCHO’s 20th Anniversary: Cultivating Traditions of Wellness Gala on March 11, 2008 in Washington, D.C.

Essay contest participants were asked to describe the impact that community health centers’ (CHCs) culturally and linguistically appropriate health care services have had on their lives. Lao, who moved to Lowell, Mass., 25 years after the Khmer Rouge seized her native Cambodia, shared her touching story of how as a pregnant woman, whose first language was not English, she was able to receive health services and navigate the health care system through the staff at Lowell Community Health Center (LCHC). She was chosen as winner of the Adult, Community Health Center Patient category of the essay contest.

“We were fortunate that Ms. Lao decided to seek care at LCHC,” said Dorcas Grigg-Saito, chief executive officer at LCHC, which provides comprehensive health care for Greater Lowell area residents. “At our clinic we see scores of patients who, without doctors who speak their language and understand their culture, would otherwise not seek out the health care they might desperately need.”

Jeffrey Caballero, executive director at AAPCHO, said the essay contest highlights the crucial role CHCs play in providing services to patients. “Through this contest we not only counter the misconception that all Asians are healthy and can easily access and afford health care, but we underscore how CHCs provide quality health care, and cultivate a culture of preventive practices which help patients ward off more complicated health disorders and reduce health care system costs,” Caballero said.

AAPCHO is a not-for-profit association dedicated to promoting advocacy, collaboration, and leadership that improves the health status and access of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the United States, its territories, and freely associated states.

LCHC provides health care services laboratory, nutrition, and social services, regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Its patient population reflects the diversity of the area, with nearly 50 percent Latino and more than 15 percent Asian American patients (primarily Cambodian).

The winning essays are available upon request and will soon be available on AAPCHO’s website,

Media Relations

Beverly Quintana
(510) 272-9536 x112

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