Northwest Asian Weekly
Dr. Jai Jun Byeon is the CEO and Chief Medical Officer for Cornerstone Medical Services. He is a strong advocate of health equity for immigrants and minorities, and received the 2013 Molina Healthcare Champion award. As a family physician, Byeon is a certified civil surgeon who can perform immigration physical exams and provides preventative health information regularly to thousands of Korean immigrants through guest appearances on Radio Hankook and delivering media op-eds.
Byeon was raised in Cheongju, a small town in Korea. He graduated from the prestigious medical school Seoul National University in South Korea in 1985, and he practiced in Korea for 15 years. He immigrated to Canada afterwards because he wanted to study end-of-life care and then eventually moved to the Seattle area, where he has worked for several free clinics and Cornerstone. He realized that many Korean immigrants did not realize their insurance options, therefore didn’t seek services. He found some would even go back to Korea to receive medical help because they were not aware of the options they had available. “I believe medical and social services should be provided together,” he said.
He recounts a case where a patient, who suffered from paranoia, wouldn’t leave home, and had never been treated.
Dr. Byeon visited him at his home and arranged through a social worker to help the patient get Medicaid coverage.
The patient was diagnosed with schizophrenia and now has outpatient follow-ups.
The qualities he has in my mind as a good physician are 1) having up-to-date medical knowlege and skills, 2) emphathy for the patients 3) practice in the context of community and 4) essentially being a good person when it comes to being a human being.
Byeon is an active member of the Seoul National University alumni association and continues to collaborate with his former colleagues from Samsung Medical Center on health disparities faced by Asian Americans. Cornerstone Medical Services began as a free clinic for the uninsured in South King County and is now a full-fledged community health clinic that has been recognized by Governor Jay Inslee for excellence as In-Person Assisters for the Affordable Care Act, has hosted over a dozen Medicare outreach and education events for over a thousand seniors, and is leading Washington state in stomach cancer prevention. (end)
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