Chapters 17 and 18

Other than hearing that Lia does not pass away like the doctors expected, Chapter 17 is quite depressing. Lia is placed in Shelby Center for Special Education during the daytime, as her six athletic and bilingual siblings pursue college and careers. The Lee’s were initially reluctant to place Lia in home because they feared that the government would take her way again. However, the full-time responsibility of taking care of Lia was started to take a toll on the Lee’s well-being. Jeanine Hilt suffers an asthma attacks and loses all brain function – passing away just three days later. Neil and Pegg’s son, Toby, is diagnosed with Leukemia. Thankfully, Toby is now in full remission. Despite the challenges that the Lee’s have faced with both medical providers and the American healthcare system, Foua exhibits empathy and sadness for the Philips. Foua is constantly asking for an update on Toby’s status.

The Lee’s have lost all faith in American medicine, and for good reason. Dr. Hutchinson stated that he believed Lia caught a septic shock. This bacterial infection caused the decline of Lia’s condition, it was not due to medication and treatment non-compliance. In a way the Lee’s were correct, however, Lia would not have survived infancy due to her condition without Western medicine. The relationship between the Lee’s and the American healthcare system is diminished. The refuse to visit the hospital even for a broken arm, severe burns, and a miscarriage.

Chapter 18 then delves into a concept we just recently learned in class – acculturation. The U.S. medical system if filled with similar instances of what happened to the Lee’s. Another Hmong women thought American doctors tried to harm her baby during delivery in order to stop Hmong from reproducing. These instances demonstrate that “doctors’ failure to see past their own biases lead to the breakdown of communication between the two sides”.

In class we discussed the different between acculturation and assimilation. Acculturation occurs when two cultures combine their beliefs, practices, traditions, etc. Assimilation is when one group of people change their practices in order to form into another culture (usually with higher power). In America, the assumption is that immigrants should assimilate into our culture. There is very little tolerance to accepting others’ practices. However, Bruce Thowpaou stated that “since Hmong health treatments never hurt anyone, but could possible help a patient, they should be seriously considered as part of the client’s course of treatment”. There should be a push for mixed culture treatment techniques in medicine for immigrants. Considering that 1 in every 6 residents in Merced are Hmong, there needs to be a middle group in which medical providers communicate and understand the Hmong culture.

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