A Message From Jianping Zhao, President
Greetings! Thank you for visiting us!
I started learning about hospice and palliative care in January, 2016, after I came across the book “Being Mortal” written by Dr. Atul Gawande, and an article introducing Prof. Keshi Zhao, the pioneer woman who led the hospice social movement in Taiwan in last 30 years. These 2 encounters opened my eyes to the hospice movement that started in 1970s by Dr. Cicely Saunders of UK, and the evolution of hospice as a social service established in many countries in the world, as well as the development of palliative medicine and palliative care programs in many areas in United States and around the world.
As a Chinese American who came from China in late 1990s and settled in America for almost 20 years now, I experienced the painful loss of my Mom and my Aunt a few years ago. Both women are so dear to my heart and so loving and devoted to their family, however they both unfortunately became very ill in last 2 years of their life, and suffered so much without getting proper care. They both received very invasive treatment before they passed away in ICU in local top hospitals in 2 of China’s largest cities. When they die, families members were not allowed to be with them due to the ICU visiting policy you can expect in Chinese hospitals. The agony of flying thousands miles back home just to wait outside of ICU without knowing if loved one is going to survive and not able to hold their hands when they pass, is tremendously traumatizing to me.
If I didn’t know about hospice and palliative care, I may still believe that there is nothing to complain about how my Mom and my aunt would have been treated and died in the way they did. But I awakened to the fact that, this is not HOW IT SUPPOSED TO BE! The lack of awareness to hospice and palliative care in Chinese communities in many places, including China, has put Chinese people into the least served population by hospice and palliative care services.
Due to Chinese culture taboo on the subject of terminal illness and death, awareness and acceptance to hospice and palliative care is very much lacking in Chinese communities.
According to a study by Susan Enguidanos et al. in 2013 among Asian populations in the U.S., only 11.8% of Chinese-Americans aged 65 and older reported knowing someone who had received hospice care. Even those who had heard of it lacked knowledge of what kinds of services hospice programs provided and other details such as eligibility and insurance coverage.
A 2015 report by The Economist Intelligence Unit evaluated 80 countries on the quality of end-of-life care based on five categories: the palliative and healthcare environment, human resources, the affordability of care, the quality of care, and the level of community engagement. Among the 80 countries, China was ranked 71st on “Quality of Death,”
My personal experience has motivated me to start HPCA Foundation as a public charity to advocate and promote Hospice Palliative Care in Chinese American communities, so that the same level of understanding and awareness can have far reaching effect to spread to broader Chinese communities, to promote academic exchange between developed countries and underdeveloped countries in hospice and palliative care field.
I sincerely hope with our generation’s effort, the great disparity in access to hospice and palliative care as a quality social healthcare service for people facing serious illness can be eliminated and the gap can be bridged.
Let’s work together toward this goal and improve the quality of care for people we love and care about in our communities, no matter where they live.