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VILLAGE VIEW: Project focuses on improving health care for immigrant communities

January 17, 2019
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January 17, 2019

From Main Line Times

Jan 16, 2019

“It isn’t the size of the dog in the fight — it’s the size of the fight in the dog.”

If you ever attended Ardmore Junior High School when Principal Edward Snow was in charge, you heard him shout out this mantra all the time. If you watched any of the recent Eagles wins, you would have thought about Mr. Snow and his adage — a lot.

It’s funny how certain sayings and thoughts, especially poems, pop up often to the surface of your brain. As I write this column, my editor, Thomas Celona, had forwarded to me an email request from a research scientist, Dr. Michael Liebman, who had found an article from 2009 which I had written for the Main Line Times about the wonderful late Dr. William Glicksman.

Since Liebman had been a student at the Overbrook Folkshul under Dr. Glicksman, he did some more googling and found information on Dr. Allen Glicksman, the son who is a researcher at the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging. And thus began a collaboration to understand better the health care needs of older adults in Philadelphia, particularly in the two largest growing aging groups, Spanish-speaking and Mandarin-speaking.

The email made me think of Emily Dickinson’s poem, “A Word dropped careless on a Page …” I mean, you never know what will happen when you consign your thoughts to paper. Or computer. Or who will discover your words and what he or she will do with them once found.

I emailed Dr. Michael Liebman and asked if he would be kind enough to let me interview him for my column. He was! And he was very generous with his time as well. Turns out he had grown up in Penn Wynne, was a graduate of Lower Merion High School, had been the first recipient of the Lower Merion Scholarship, which he used to attend Drexel Institute of Technology (as it was called back then), and he was about to embark on an important research project in partnership with Dr. Glicksman at PCA.

In 2012, Liebman started ipqanalytics with a partner, who is no longer active, Torsten Geers, a Main Liner. They help pharma companies — from developing new drugs, to improving clinical trials, to understanding how to make their drugs more effective and who will benefit from them.

Dr. Liebman has some very interesting titles: adjunct professor of pharmacology and physiology, Drexel College of Medicine; adjunct professor of medicine, First Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, China; and invited professor, SCBIT Chinese Academy of Science, Shanghai, China.

He does not speak Chinese, but he told me that most of his Chinese colleagues speak English, and many of his students do, as well, so he has easy access to translators. He travels to China twice a year.

Liebman was with Wyeth and Roche, where he served as global head of genomics at Roche.

Liebman also works with a Norwegian pediatric rare disease foundation, The Nathaniel Adamczyk Foundation, which is interested in pediatric ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome).

Dr. Glicksman is director of research and evaluation at PCA, with an undergraduate degree from Temple and a PhD in sociology from Penn. He has a colleague at PCA, Lauren Ring, who is also working on the project. The Borchard Foundation is funding the initial research, which will allow them to run four focus groups, two in each community they wish to study — Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) and at the Philadelphia Senior Center, the Coffee Cup (for Chinese) — and they will translate results. They will be asking them their needs, what services they know are available, how do they learn about services, how do they choose.

Despite the chaotic situation at the Mexico-U.S. border, the biggest change that’s coming is that the number of white and English-speaking older adults is declining and the number of Spanish and Chinese-speaking older adults is increasing. The majority of the Spanish-speaking population are from Puerto Rico, then the Dominican Republic. The grant started Jan. 15. Then they have to go through human subjects review.

Some of the questions they are planning to use on the focus groups are: Is there a native language newspaper? TV station? A social media channel?

We look forward to hearing about the results of their research and hope for better outcomes for health care in our immigrant communities.

Bonnie Squires is a communications consultant who writes weekly for Main Line Media News and can be reached at bonniesquires.com. She hosts the “Bonnie’s Beat” TV show at Radnor Studio 21 and Main Line Television.

 

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