Meet the Team: Paulo Dela Cruz, Development and Special Projects Assistant

Welcome to our blog series, “Meet the AAPCHO Team,” where you’ll have a chance to get to know our staff! Meet Paulo Dela Cruz, Development and Special Projects Assistant, as he answers some questions.

Photo courtesy of Canva

What’s your role at AAPCHO?

I am the Development and Special Projects Assistant. I provide support to the staff and programs that service community health centers and patients across the nation.

Who are three Asian American (AA) or Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NH/PI) health champions that you think people should know about?

Named one of Time’s Most Influential People in 2013, Katherine Luzuriaga, MD is a physician-scientist, whose research led to breakthroughs in pediatric HIV/AIDS treatment and diagnostics. Dr. Luzuriaga developed early diagnostic methods for pediatric HIV infection through maternal transmission and a “functional-cure.” Her work continues to lead the path toward better health outcomes for children and infants all across the world.

Richard Kekuni Blaisdell, MD is another champion of NH/PI healthcare. Dr. Blaisdell authored health reports detailing the unique health issues that Native Hawaiians face. Dr. Blaisdell also testified in front of Congress for the Native Hawaiian Health Bill, which passed in 1988. This bill increased Native Hawaiian access to health care by establishing five Native Hawaiian healthcare systems that focused on the integration of traditional practices and western medicine.

Abraham Verghese, MD is a pioneer in healthcare notable for his focus on empathy in doctor-patient relationships. Working closely with young people with AIDS, Dr. Verghese used empathetic communication to navigate the challenges that arise from premature deaths. As healthcare is more than just treating illness, Dr. Verhese’s approach was mindful of the patient perspective, working towards fostering trust with the communities he served. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal from Barack Obama in 2015 for his work.

How would you describe what community health centers do and why they should support them to someone who may not be familiar with them?

Community health centers (CHCs) are organizations dedicated to servicing communities with specific needs. They are community-based and patient-driven. The primary function of a CHC is to provide affordable primary care and social services to populations, who might not have access to these services otherwise. Increasing healthcare accessibility takes into account a number of different factors and determinants to consider including language barriers, income, cultural and social norms, etc. At AAPCHO, we partner with CHCs to provide these services and programs tailored toward the AANHPI community.

What are you most looking forward to in your new position at AAPCHO?

I am most looking forward to being of service to the AA and NH/PI communities that uplifted and supported me throughout my upbringing. Ultimately, I hope to give back to these communities, and the work we are doing at AAPCHO aligns with this mission.

What is your favorite or go-to childhood comfort food?

My favorite go-to childhood comfort food is sinigang. My mom used to make a large pot of it almost every week growing up.



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The Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations — dedicated to promoting advocacy, collaboration and leadership to improve AA and NHPI health.