Choi began by recruiting Korean-American doctors and nurses who could provide care that was more linguistically and culturally in tune with the intended population. That marked the beginnings of the Korean Medical Program, which Choi said she wanted to benefit both the community and the hospital by establishing a go-to healthcare site for Korean immigrants.
After ongoing debt problems and years of declining admissions led Pascack Valley to close in 2007, Choi moved the program to nearby Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, which had been running a less ambitious form of a clinic targeting Korean-American patients since 2002. (Pascack Valley reopened in 2013 as Hackensack University Medical Center at Pascack Valley.)
"She was very successful, and her program was very different from ours," said Michael Maron, president and CEO of Holy Name Medical Center. "Ours in its origins was just a clinic to treat mostly the uninsured and needy in that population, but it was not real total population health management."
Following the move to Holy Name in 2008, the program quickly grew from 35 physicians to 90, serving a population of more than 45,000 patients.
Since that time the program has been renamed Asian Health Services and expanded to include specialized medical programs for Chinese, Filipino, Indian and Japanese ethnic populations. Choi is vice president of the program.
Now in its 10th year, the program has about 280 Asian-American physicians who work in concert with more than 250 church and community groups and more than 900 private donors to provide a medical home for more than 250,000 Asians in the New Jersey and New York area.