Pon-Sang Chan, Ezekiel Chandra
In the 1990s, local cardiologist Pon-Sang Chan noticed that certain populations faced high barriers in gaining access to health care. Some did not have insurance and others simply did not know where to go. And at the time, Chan says, the general health awareness among the public was lacking.
In order to address these needs, Chan envisioned an event that would offer basic medical services for free to anybody. He tried to garner support for his initiative, but there was little interest. “So I said, OK, this is my vision and mission, so I will just do it regardless,” he says. “So I paid for the blood tests and all those things that first year.”
Over the years, Chan was able to garner an increasing amount of support
-from community groups, other doctors and pastor Ezekiel Chandra, who now serves as the program director – and has expanded the event’s services and outreach. Now known as Medical Day, the annual event serves anyone who needs help or wants to learn their health risks.
“People often don’t know where to go, especially if they don’t have insurance,” Chan says. “Anybody who wants to can come get some help.”
This year’s Medical Day takes place June 30 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Chinatown Cultural Plaza. Many of the services focus on preventative care. “Prevention is the key, and finding out what kind of genetic difficulty (a patient) has is part of that,” he says. “The sooner they find out, the better off they are, the longer they live.”
Medical Day offers blood work to test for cholesterol levels, risks for diabetes and kidney function. It also offers blood pressure, heart and eye tests and features seminars on topics that include cancer, infectious diseases and oral hygiene. Information about health insurance and finding a regular doctor also will be available. Attendees can return at 6 p.m. to receive the results of their blood work.
In addition to providing health services, the event encourages youths to participate in service activities. Organizers have enlisted the help of youths from local churches. “I want them to learn to serve the community,” Chan explains. Each year, about 250 teens – including many from Kapahulu Bible Church where Chandra preaches – help with logistics and translation.
What began as a small event now serves up to a thousand patients each year – and Chan hopes to expand Medical Day’s reach even more. “Giving is better than taking. I feel that whenever I give, I am satisfied to be a physician,” he says.
The event is free and open to the public. Registration begins at 8 a.m. For more information, visit medicalday.org or call 545-5122.