Danny Fong: Heal­ing lo­cally and na­tion­wide BIO

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICA - By ZHANG FAN in New York fanzhang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The Chi­nese Amer­i­can Med­i­cal So­ci­ety of New York has a two-pronged mis­sion, ac­cord­ing to Dr Danny Fong, its pres­i­dent.

“We help doc­tors of Chi­nese de­scent through their med­i­cal school and train­ing, pro­vid­ing scholarships and other sup­port, and we en­cour­age them to join us when they’re ready, so they too can make a con­tri­bu­tion to our com­mu­nity,” Fong said.

Es­tab­lished in 1964, the Chi­nese Amer­i­can Med­i­cal So­ci­ety (CAMS), with more than 1,200 mem­bers na­tion­wide, is one of the largest Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can med­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions in the United States.

The so­ci­ety serves as a plat­form for doc­tors to share knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence, as well as pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial aid. From 1973 to 2013, the so­ci­ety has awarded about 166 scholarships.

“We want to en­cour­age [re­cip­i­ents] to do the same for oth­ers. Be­cause some­body helped us, we need to pass it along,” said Fong, who spe­cial­izes in plas­tic, re­con­struc­tive and hand surgery.

Fong said there were a lot of health is­sues that af­fect Chi­nese Amer­i­cans in par­tic­u­lar and the so­ci­ety could help ad­dress those is­sues and en­cour­age other doc­tors and drug com­pa­nies to de­velop spe­cial treat­ments and medicines.

“The CAMS has evolved into a more vo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion for Chi­nese-Amer­i­can pa­tients,” Fong said. “We con­duct spe­cial re­search and en­hance the so­cial aware­ness of our prob­lems.”

Fong was born in 1961 in New York City’s Chi­na­town, the younger son of a large fam­ily that moved to the US from Guang­dong prov­ince, China.

His mother, a for­mer nurse in Hong Kong, helps new im­mi­grants who can­not speak English ac­cess health care and treat­ment.

“Lots of people still re­mem­ber the help she gave them,” said Fong. “Her kind­ness re­ally in­flu­enced my brother and me. We saw her as a role model and de­cided to help people too.”

Fong’s brother, Ray­mond, is an eye doc­tor who has sev­eral clin­ics in New York. Along with his brother, Fong started to vol­un­teer to work in a lo­cal clinic at 16, help­ing people who knew no English.

“Chi­na­town was very dif­fer­ent 50 years ago,” Fong said. “The vol­un­teer work helped us form an idea of what was needed to help the com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially those who were not as for­tu­nate as we were since we were able to learn English and at­tend lo­cal schools.”

The idea of “help­ing the com­mu­nity” fur­ther so­lid­i­fied af­ter he grad­u­ated from the Univer­sity of Rochester med­i­cal school in 1986. Among the more than 100 med­i­cal stu­dents, only four were of Asian de­scent, in­clud­ing two Chi­nese and one Korean. Fong said there were a lot of racial is­sues back then and he had to learn to be a “mi­nor­ity”.

“That is a strong part of what de­fined me be­cause I re­al­ized that I was dif­fer­ent and had a dif­fer­ent back­ground,” said Fong. “That made me de­cide that I re­ally needed to go back to Chi­na­town and help oth­ers like my­self in or­der to make more Chi­nese able to go to good col­leges, good med­i­cal schools and be­come doc­tors.”

With such de­ter­mi­na­tion, Fong opened his own clinic in 1993 af­ter seven years of med­i­cal train­ing. Ac­cord­ing to his wife, Estelle, most of his pa­tients were Chi­nese Amer­i­cans at the start, but to­day at least 50 per­cent are non-Chi­nese.

On web-based ur­ban guide Yelp, Fong’s pa­tients write that Fong is very ef­fi­cient and has “good per­for­mance”. Dana M from Man­hat­tan praised him for suc­cess­fully set­ting her bro­ken fin­ger in just 20 min­utes.

“I feel for­tu­nate that some of my pa­tients travel all the way to Chi­na­town to see me,” he said. “A cou­ple of weeks ago, I had a pa­tient who came all the way from Dubai to have surgery here.”

Fong said he learned Chi­nese di­alects from his grand­mother and people feel com­fort­able with him. It’s a way for him to be of “value to the com­mu­nity”, he said.

At the same time, Fong said, be­ing a qual­ity doc­tor helps im­prove the im­age of Chi­nese Amer­i­cans in gen­eral, which is also im­por­tant.

“When pa­tients learn that I am Chi­nese Amer­i­can, they of­ten have the im­pres­sion that Chi­nese are good at medicine,” he said. “Some of my pa­tients even tell me they think I must be good at medicine since I am Chi­nese. That makes me very proud.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (AMA), there were about 5,375 Chi­nese doc­tors work­ing in the US in 2010. The num­ber is even higher if Chi­nese-Amer­i­can doc­tors are in­cluded.

The CAMS is deeply in­volved in all ar­eas of the Amer­i­can med­i­cal field, ac­cord­ing to Fong. “How­ever, there is one area that needs more at­ten­tion — we need to im­prove our lead­er­ship in medicine. We have a lot of doc­tors out there but not a lot in lead­er­ship roles, such as chair­men of pro­grams or heads of med­i­cal so­ci­eties.”

In 2013, Rober M. Wah, a Chi­nese-Amer­i­can physi­cian in Wash­ing­ton, was elected pres­i­dent of the AMA, the na­tion’s largest physi­cian or­ga­ni­za­tion. He is serv­ing as pres­i­dent-elect for one year and will be sworn in as AMA pres­i­dent in June.

“It is for­tu­nate that we have a Chi­nese-Amer­i­can pres­i­dent of the AMA,” Fong said. “He will en­large our group’s voice.”

Fong added: “And I think we can do bet­ter still. For ex­am­ple, we haven’t had a Chi­ne­seAmer­i­can Sur­geon Gen­eral

DANNY FONG

Pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Amer­i­can Med­i­cal So­ci­ety Age: 43

• Amherst Col­lege Univer­sity of Rochester School of Medicine • New York Med­i­cal Col­lege Al­bany Med­i­cal Cen­ter Con­necti­cut Com­bined Hand Pro­gram Founder of a pri­vate prac­tice in New York Pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Amer­i­can Med­i­cal So­ci­ety

We help doc­tors of Chi­nese de­scent through their med­i­cal school and train­ing, pro­vid­ing scholarships and other sup­port, and we en­cour­age them to join us when they’re ready, so they too can make a con­tri­bu­tion to our com­mu­nity.” DANNY FONG PRES­I­DENT OF THE CHI­NESE AMER­I­CAN MED­I­CAL SO­CI­ETY

yet. With a joint ef­fort by the com­mu­nity, I be­lieve we can achieve that goal.”

ZHANG FAN / CHINA DAILY

Danny Fong, pres­i­dent of Chi­nese Amer­i­can Med­i­cal So­ci­ety and also a well-known Chi­nese Amer­i­can doc­tor who spe­cial­izes in plas­tic, re­con­struc­tive and hand surgery.

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