On Sunday, April 17, 45 participants convened at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to celebrate Dr. Jie-Jia Li’s life and contribution to clinical practice, education and research. Friends and family from Shanghai, China attended this special event as well as past trainees and patients who had been taught and healed by Dr. JJ Li. With a warm welcome, Dr. Ka-Kit Hui, director and founder of UCLA Center for East-West Medicine (CEWM), highlighted Dr. JJ Li’s efforts in helping CEWM grow from a small clinical practice with 2 rooms to a clinical site with 12 rooms. Dr. JJ Li also took part in research projects to support the clinical efficacy of integrative East-West medicine. Dr. Jian-Ping Fu, wife, colleague and co-author, introduced Dr. Li's life-long work and research on fingernail diagnosis, which Dr. JJ Li published in 2014. His textbook, “Fundamentals of Chinese Fingernail Image Diagnosis (FID)”, serves as a valuable reference for those who are looking for additional tools in diagnostic techniques. The book is the product of Dr. JJ Li’s countless hours of dedication to create a comprehensive introduction to FID for practitioners who are seeking for non-invasive clinical diagnosis tools to assess an individual’s health.
The commemorative event for Dr. JJ Li brought together his friends and colleagues from China and Los Angeles to share a conversation on the trends of community health centers and primary care in China and Los Angeles. Dr. JJ Li’s friends and mentors, including Dr. Kangmei Zhu from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Dr. Li Jun of Shanghai Wu Mengchao Medical Science Foundation in Shanghai and Dr. Wen Fang from Da Shi Yuan Community Health Services Station (CHSS) in Nanchang, Jiangxi, travelled from China to attend this special event. Dr. Wen Fang gave a brief presentation on the values and challenges of CHSSs in China by using the CHSS in which he serves as a medical director as an example. He mentioned how community health workers and practitioners are so immersed in their assigned community that they could recognize their patients by name. In addition to exemplifying the rapport between medical staff and patients, he also explained some of the operations of community health workers. For patients who were identified as high-risk for metabolic syndromes such as diabetes, community health workers are sent to their homes to evaluate how much salt is used in their daily diet to ensure that the patients actively make lifestyle changes. He also discussed the community center’s innovative use of social media to remind their patients to actively adjust their lifestyle. Lastly, Dr. Fang remarked that despite this positively impactful work, which is evident in many CHSSs, CHSSs often struggle to retain its patients because of the structure of the healthcare system.
Following Dr. Fang’s presentation, Dr. Weijun Zhang, a researcher at the UCLA CEWM explained China’s healthcare system. Dr. Zhang explained that as CHSSs represent the lowest tier of the health care system in urban areas, it receives significantly less funding from the government compared to the upper tier hospitals. Dr. Zhang commented on how Dr. Fang’s detailed description of a CHSS provided the attendees understanding in how China’s primary healthcare facilities strive to meet the population’s healthcare needs. Dr. Zhang also noted that over the past six years of healthcare reform in China, even though remarkable progress has been made, there are still challenges in offering high quality primary healthcare. He explained some of these barriers, which include patient’s low trust in physicians working at primary healthcare facilities and lack of confidence in the quality of healthcare services. As such, Dr. Zhang highlighted that in China, recent focus has shifted to strengthening, through an in-service training program, the capability of primary healthcare practitioners. According to Dr. Zhang, the Chinese government has been piloting a program titled “Project On Improving Chinese Medicine Service Capability of Community Health Centers In Shanghai”, to improve the healthcare system. This program aims to further integrate Chinese medicine’s “high touch and low tech” interventions in CHSSs in order to regain the community’s trust in them.
After Dr. Zhang’s presentation, Dr. Edward K. Hui, director of the Primary Care East-West Medicine program, briefly introduced Center for East-West Medicine (CEWM)’s brand of integrative medicine and touted its value-add to primary care. CEWM’s efforts over the past several years to reorganize and expand the long-existing consultative and treatment clinic into a one-stop, full service, integrative East-West health center. This integrative medicine-flavored patient-centered medical home would satisfy the growing demand for high-level generalists as well as a greater preference for low-tech, low-cost and high-touch treatments. This medical home would empower patients to develop optimal health and well-being through an academic-based model of primary care rooted in the principles of individualized disease prevention, holism, integrative medicine and the traditional Chinese healing philosophy. While integrative East-West medicine is helpful for patients with advanced disease, offering symptom relief and palliation with less toxicity, its real strength lies in its ability to intervene at an earlier stage in the continuum of health and disease. Early medical intervention would address most problems in the primary care setting and help patients avoid a costly path that could involve unnecessary evaluation and sometimes therapeutic misadventure. Integrative East-West medicine enhances UCLA Health’s Primary Care Innovation Model, which supports the UCLA Accountable Care Organization, by extending beyond the primary care clinics to incorporate community-based services and pre-primary care services, reaching patients earlier and more affordably in their homes and communities, and reducing unnecessary physician and emergency room visits. Dr. Hui concluded that the department of medicine, under the leadership of its chairman, Dr. Alan Fogelman, continues to facilitate CEWM’s efforts, especially in training of physicians, but more resources is necessary to fully realize and implement the integrative medicine-flavored patient-centered medical home.
Finally, Dr. Jian-Ping Fu expressed her gratitude to Dr. Hui and the staff of CEWM for convening together. In honor of Dr. JJ Li’s work, the Center for East-West Medicine plans to gift the book, “Fingernail Diagnosis” to organizations and institutes who could expand and apply Dr. JJ Li’s work into clinical practice or further study.
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