Written By Shuli Luo
Translated by Mark Wan
Edited by Adriana DiBenedetto
Settling down on verdant grass at the local park, friends and neighbors basked in the comforting outdoor atmosphere in South El Monte, CA. And Tzu Chi, too, had taken the opportunity to set up an information booth for a Q&A session offered by the local Tzu Chi Health Center.
Tzu Chi Health Center in South El Monte is designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike (FQHCLAL). Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alikes are community-based health care providers that meet the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Health Center Program requirements. Though it does not mean Tzu Chi will receive federal Health Center Program funding, Health Center Look-Alike designees have the following privileges:
- Eligible to apply to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for reimbursement under FQHC Medicare and Medicaid payment methodologies.
- Eligible to purchase discounted drugs through the 340B Federal Drug Pricing Program.
- Will receive automatic Health Professional Shortage Area designation.
- Gain access to National Health Service Corps providers.
This designation allows Tzu Chi to carry out our mission further — to provide affordable and patient-centered health care for the community with love, respect, and gratitude.
Curious about the services offered, people enjoying time at the park found themselves drawn by the enthusiasm of Meijuan Guo, a Tzu Chi volunteer at the information booth. “We would like all community residents to know about our Tzu Chi Health Center, located right here in South El Monte, literally a five-minute drive away from the park,” she explained. “Everybody can go visit, should there be any need for its services, which include Western medicine, Chinese traditional medicine, and we accept all sorts of insurance.”
Meijuan Guo explained that Tzu Chi Health Center not only provides treatment, but knowledge regarding personal health and preventative care. “We offer health-related lectures consecutively every month conducted in Chinese and English, and later, Spanish lectures were also added upon residents’ requests from Alhambra and South El Monte,” she said.
Selfless supporters of Tzu Chi’s medical outreach in the community had donated a large quantity of face masks and hand sanitizers, which volunteers also distributed into the hands of local residents to support community health. “Our stall has a prize wheel game, which basically allows everyone to win something. So long as participants ‘like’ our Facebook page and ‘thumbs-up’ our Youtube channel, they are given free face masks and hand sanitizers.”
By the end of the informational event, Tzu Chi volunteers had received a great deal of excellent feedback. This outreach for community education also resulted in new contact lists to facilitate future collaboration.
With masks and hand sanitizer readily available as gift items, Cixi Sun, a Tzu Chi volunteer, visited other stalls that set up in the park, expressing that it was a rare opportunity to meet more organizations that share the goal of building a healthier community. “Since being federally certified, the Tzu Chi Health Center hopes to help more low-income residents. Both potential service providers and potential clientele now have met, and both are pleased. We also cultivated goodwill and bonded well with Mayor Gloria Olmos and the police department,” he said.
Tzu Chi volunteers offer supplies while introducing Tzu Chi Health Center’s services. Photo/Shuli Luo
One person who had been served before by the Tzu Chi medical team approached the Tzu Chi stall and was quickly recognized by volunteers. After Meiying Wang had moved to the United States, she had brought her daughter to the health center for a checkup, and shared the experience with volunteers. “I feel that the Tzu Chi staff are very warm,” said Meiying. “We’d just come to this country and felt quite sensitive. But at Tzu Chi, I let my guard down and felt welcome. My daughter got her teeth checked, blood work, and immunizations. It has been a few years since then. Very happy to see you guys here!”
Also at the outdoor event was Gloria Olmos, the Mayor of South El Monte, who expressed special thanks to Tzu Chi medical volunteers for actively promoting community health. Mayor Olmos additionally introduced Tzu Chi volunteers to several families, for which volunteers are deeply grateful. Together, we can do even more.