COPE Health Solutions developed the Health Scholar program in 1995 to impact health care workforce development by growing culturally competent, compassionate future professionals. Daniel Kim has been a Health Scholar at Glendale Adventist Medical Center since 2013, and through his program experience has built a relationship with the hospital that stretches beyond career development. Here is his story:
It was another full weekend work day at my parent’s printing factory. All was routine except that my youngest brother, Diego Kim, had been complaining about a stomach ache since early morning. Diego’s condition worsened over the next eight hours. His body began to shake, his hands became numb and contracted from the pain. When we anxiously arrived home, it became clear that Diego’s plan to sleep the pain away would not work, and we were presented with the nerve-racking decision to take him to the hospital. None of us were insured.
While my parents scrambled to find a Korean hospital in hopes that it would facilitate better communication between them and the doctors, Diego’s strength diminished and left him screaming in pain. I called several hospital emergency departments only to learn that they were all full; then I suggested we go to Glendale Adventist Medical Center (GAMC), where I am involved as a Health Scholar.
As both a Health Scholar and a member of the Student Leadership program, I was used to providing care for patients. Now, I was on the receiving end of care. We arrived at GAMC’s Emergency Department, where I previously shifted as a Health Scholar, and word quickly spread that a Health Scholar’s family member was in need. Diego was diagnosed with appendicitis and his surgery was scheduled for early next morning. Meanwhile, it was reassuring to know that I could help staff better help my brother. Because of my experience as a Health Scholar on the unit, I knew where the warm blankets were kept, and where the water and juices were stored to help make my family’s stay more comfortable. Most importantly, I knew how to ask for help. I worked with the nurses to ensure Diego’s admission, procedure, and recovery went smoothly.
Nurses that I was once too timid to approach as a Health Scholar suddenly opened up, and I saw firsthand the quality of care and compassion that they so effectively provide at GAMC. I was able to ease all of my parent’s fears and concerns about hospitals by serving as the bridge between the patient, the hospital staff, and my family. Best of all, I saw other Health Scholars perform good hand hygiene, introduce themselves using “KIAHI” and “AIDET”® techniques when they came into our room to take vital signs for my brother.
The appendectomy was successful and Diego will fully recover. I was happy to know that I could be relied upon in such a tremendous way with the life and care of my brother. I have spoken with social workers at GAMC, and we are grateful for the assistance provided to cover Diego’s hospital stay and for my entire family to get health insurance. We can look forward to a future where hospital visits will not be a last resort anymore. I believe in the impact of the Health Scholar program and in the training that we all receive to make us better caregivers, better collaborators, and, perhaps most importantly, better advocates in our own time of need.