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05.22.19 Invigorating Experience in Gulfport / Biloxi, Mississippi

On May 22, 2019, Dr. Binh Tran, Program Director from the Asian Pacific Health Foundation in San Diego, traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi to assess their community needs as part of the Peer-Mentoring Project determined by Hepatitis B Foundation. Dr. Trâm Nguyễn, APHF Outreach Operations Manager, traveled with her on behalf of Dr. Kayla Giang, PharmD as part of the PRIME LLC Program to provide education on “Ending Hepatitis B Starts With You” to Vietnamese American populations. The meeting took place at the landmark Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi, site of most educational and health screening events in the area.

The Peer-Mentoring Project focuses on the mentee’s skills development in the following areas: Networking, Capacity Building, and Training. This project was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During the 9-month project period, APHF participated as the mentor and Xuân Phan, Community Outreach Specialist from Mercy Housing and Human Development (MHHD) was the mentee. The Community Health Advocacy program from MHHD is designed to improve the health indices of the Vietnamese American commercial fishing community through health screenings, doctor visits and ACA Navigation with the assistance of an interpreter. As a community health worker, Xuân's focus is helping the Vietnamese community navigate the insurance and medical system as an interpreter and liaison between doctors and Vietnamese patients. Dr. Binh Tran, as co-founder of APHF with Dr. Ton Tran, and having served over 8000 patients over 18 years, had invaluable experiences to share with Xuân. As APHF’s mission is to advance health and wellness for vulnerable populations via health education and free community health screenings, Dr. Tran’s experiences in community health screening, networking, team building, and capacity building, were directly transferable to MHHD’s work.

In addition to discussing with Xuan, Dr. Tran provided an overview of APHF activities in San Diego and its collaboration with the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Attendees of her talk were from the PRIME LLC Program organized by Xuân and local organizations, Boat People SOS chapter in Mississippi, and the Department of Health Services in the MS County.

Dr. Tran also visited the Boat People S.O.S. office in Biloxi and Mercy Housing and Human Development Office in Gulfport with Xuân. Dr. Tran had the opportunity to meet Ms. Julie Egressy, Executive Director and Xuân’s boss.

The one-day site visit was remarkably productive. Many thanks to Xuân for making Dr. Tran’s site visit a great experience! We hope the Peer-Mentoring Project, APHF, MHHD, and the Boat People S.O.S. furthered our collaboration towards the goal of freeing our community of Viral Hepatitis B.


Binh Tran, PharmD and Kayla Giang, PharmD

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