Emerging Leader: Tina Fischel

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 12.43.08 PMAge: 22Hometown: Irvine, CA Future residence: Denver, CO (starting in August) College of William and Mary, 2013 Kinesiology and Health Sciences

Tina Fischel is about to make a big move. At the end of the summer, she will relocate to Colorado to work as a health educator for the Metro Community Provider Network (MCPN), an affiliate of the Health Corps. While there, she will work in a clinical setting among health professionals. Her duties include conducting individual patient consultations on nutrition, diabetes and smoking, and helping to educate a community of historically underserved Spanish-speaking refugees and migrant workers.

Fischel is very excited to see her academic and professional paths converge. For the past eight years, she has been organizing and fundraising for Relay for Life. She is passionate about fulfilling the American Cancer Society’s mission to reduce incidents of cancer, as well as the suffering that comes from cancer.

When she was an EMT, Fischel was exposed to the realities that aren’t necessarily visible to the rest of society.

“[As an EMT] you’re going into people’s homes uninvited and you see things like addiction and poverty. You also see people coming into the ER as a first and last resort,” she explains. The experience shed light on just how complex and inefficient modern healthcare is.

“If I can contribute to a solution or remedy, that’s what I want to do,” Fischel adds. She is motivated to enact change in healthcare, particularly at the community level.

“What inspires me is the people who do it best. When someone does [their job] right, you notice. The patients notice and the people around notice,” Fischel states. Fischel is referring to the 'human connection' that sometimes is lacking in primary and preventative care. This connection includes giving patients the full attention and time that they deserve in order to address their individual diagnoses. She will strive to work in this manner once she’s in her new role in Denver.

When asked about her Fil-Am identity, Fischel looks back on her time before college.

“In my past, my only connection was the fact that I was brown,” she laughs. Fischel’s mom is from the Philippines, while her dad is of Eastern European descent. Growing up, they’d have Adobo once a month, which was always something Fischel and her siblings looked forward to. When she transferred from UCLA  to William and Mary for her sophomore year, she joined the Filipino American Student Association. It was a positive experience, because not only did she learn about Pilipino history and culture, but also saw just how hospitable Pilipinos can be.

“Even though we are not in the Philippines, we are [known for being] welcoming. People around the world notice it, too,” Fischel remarks.

Fischel describes how it’s been a goal of hers to live in Colorado. After casually mentioning it to a friend who worked for AmeriCorps, she was encouraged to apply for the position in Denver. As of a result of what may appear to be a stroke of luck, Fischel offers the following advice to other emerging Fil-Ams and Pilipinos.

“You can’t just give up and settle. Don’t be afraid to look to other people for inspiration. You can gain direction from your peers, and you shouldn’t be afraid of that.”

#PIHealth: A Call to Action for Improving Health in the Philippines

Note from the editor: Today's story is a guest post by Kathleen Cabangon. A major issue that the Philippines faces is health and healthcare. Around one-quarter of families in the Philippines live below the poverty threshold, reflecting broad social inequity and other social challenges. Cities are becoming more crowded and polluted due to increased migration from rural areas; cost of living has increased due to inflation making food more expensive; and access to clean water supplies is more uncertain compared to a generation ago. Despite the Philippines’ economic and political progress in the new millennia, inequity in the public health sector exacerbate challenges in morbidity and mortality and put at risk the well-being and lives of many Filipinos.

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Acknowledging the growing concerns in health, the Philippine government is expected to provide universal health care for its citizens by 2016. An article published earlier this year by the World Bank, “Achieving Universal Health Care in the Philippines,” described the current state of the health care system:

“While the Philippines has made considerable progress in the health sector over the previous decades, several important challenges remain. Poor households’ health outcomes were three to four times worse than middle class families’ and the poor lacked proper financial protection from debt accrued from out-of-pocket health expenses. To alleviate poverty, the government prioritized enrolling poor households in the national health insurance program and ensuring they had adequate access to quality health services and financial protection.”

My interest in health issues began while I was an intern at Advancement for Rural Kids (ARK). ARK developed an amazing feeding program: just $15/day feeds one child for an entire year. This program was backed up by statistical data which showed the shift. With this, I began to draw the conclusion that without proper access to food or health care, success was virtually impossible. For example, imagine all the times you were sick and unable to work. Being ill essentially put a “stop” on your ability to produce and be active. There is a direct correlation between productivity and one’s state of health. We can further push that idea to say that for some in the Philippines, the notion of productivity becomes an obstacle because they do not have the necessary health care to remain healthy. Screen shot 2013-05-09 at 3.40.14 AM So why? Why should we care? Personally, I feel an inherent need to give back in any way that I can to the Filipino community and one way I fulfill that need is by writing this blog post. My role is to give a voice to the people who are voiceless and to expose the hardships Filipinos face, day in and day out. It is a shame that even for a nation with infinite potential like the United States, that inequities such as poverty and access to health are still unsettled issues for the country. Public hospital facilities should be beyond what they are now and should mirror the city’s aims towards growth. The prices of medicines in the Philippines are among the highest in the world—certainly too high in relation to household incomes of most Filipinos. Given the high prices, most medicines are beyond the paying capacity of most Filipinos. Thus, the state of health in the Philippines calls for attention from the government, but most importantly from its citizens, where citizen awareness of the issues is the primary catalyst for change.

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