Chapters 5 and6

In chapters 5 and 6, we learn more about the continuous struggle for Lia’s health at the hands of the American health system. In Chapter 5, one piece of information that stood out to me was the fact that Lia is overweight.  To the Hmong, an overweight child is a good thing, but for Lia’s doctors it made it harder for them to find a vein. The disconnect between this family and the doctors became more and more apparent. From struggling to keep Lia in her crib, to having difficulty communicating medication directions, this story continues to show just how much cultural competence is necessary in a diverse society.  Because of this disconnect, Lia’s parents could not properly care for Lia’s condition and Lia’s doctor, Neil, she became a ward of the state to be removed from her parents. Chapter 6 mostly focused on the disconnect between the Hmong community as a whole and the community’s doctors. There were misconceptions on both sides. Some Hmong thought doctors were trying to cut for the sake of cutting or experimentation purposes.  Some doctors thought the Hmong were abusing their children instead of just performing cultural healing traditions. It was interesting that the doctor that the Hmong liked the most was seen as one of the least intelligent doctors. Maybe the other doctors could have learned something from him.


These two chapters simply build on what we’ve already established but I think the intersections of trust, the healthcare system, and inequality are interesting. In the previous chapters, the author noted how many rumors surrounded the American healthcare system.  Rumors and stories can be hard to disprove, especially when there isn’t a clear line of communication between the groups. Trust is so important when it comes to healthcare. Distrust of those supposed to heal us can have detrimental effects on communities. For instance, my grandparents and great-grandparents are distrustful of doctors because of the experiments done on black people in the name of furthering medicine and science.


Another interesting aspects of these chapters was the fact that the American doctors saw Lia’s parents’ struggle to understand and implement their directions as a serious moral failing on the parts of the parents.  Although, of course, it was necessary for Lia to get the medications that she needed. However, I think that it was just as necessary for the doctors to come up with ways to communicate what they needed to the population that of which they were supposed to be healing.  Even today, this disconnect between minority cultures and the medical system persist, not on the moral or intellectual capabilities of those communities, but because the healthcare system has been slow to adapt.


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One thought on “Chapters 5 and6

  1. I love your point about the medical field being slow to adapt. As you mentioned, unfortunately it is often the case that cultural disconnect causes minorities to be viewed as less morally or intellectually capable. However, that is not the case. There are often very valid reasons why minorities have distrust toward the medical system. Obviously it is difficult for those in the medical field if patients seem to purposefully ignore their directions. However, they need to realize it is not about them. As you you wrote, there might be something to be learned from the doctor perceived as the least intelligent. I think American values are too focused on “modernity” as a marker of intelligence and this becomes a problem especially with minority groups since their cultures are often marked as archaic and backwards in relation to white culture.

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