Nancy Chang - KQED and Union Bank's 2014 Local Hero

By Doreen Lew

Wa Sung Community Service Club is very proud of member Nancy Chang - KQED and Union Bank's 2014 Local Hero. Congratulations Nancy!

Nancy Chang's parents immigrated from China so Cantonese was Nancy's first language. She did not know English when she started Kindergarten, which isolated her from others. This was a frightening experience for her. She truly understands the difficulties of not being able to speak English and the feelings of feeling vulnerable because of it.

She became a nurse because she wanted to help others. People who suffer from an illness and have a language barrier feel very vulnerable. While working at a home health agency, Nancy met Mr. B. who had several large wounds to his leg. Because he was trying to treat his leg by himself, lived alone, and did not know English, his leg got worse. His plight resonated with Nancy. Healthcare services were available to him, but he could not access them because of his language and cultural barriers.

Nancy reached out to her superiors and managers to get them to reach out to the Chinese-speaking patients, but they didn't listen to her. They were not convinced there was a need. Therefore, Nancy decided to do something. She went to the County Court House and filed a business name called Health Perceptions. She used her car as her office. She used payphones to communicate with her patients and doctors. She carried a lot of quarters and dimes. Thank goodness when cell phones became available.

Nancy worked 7 days a week with no time off. After 8 months of working non-stop, all she could think about was "I need a day off." Luckily, she met May Cheng, another Cantonese-speaking nurse, who offered the break that she needed.

Nancy formed Asian Network Pacific Home Care with Ivy Kwong, a physical therapist, to help the Asian community. Today, Nancy, Ivy Kwong, and Tracy Wei have grown the company from 3 employees to over 100 employees covering 4 counties in the greater Bay Area. The staff is multi-lingual and multi-cultural. They speak 7 different languages and a number of dialects in between.

Over the past 23 years, they have served thousands of patients recovering from illnesses or living with terminal illnesses. Nancy loves her work and is very grateful for the opportunity to serve her community. She feels she can help make a difference in the lives of her patients, blending East and West together, while providing culturally sensitive home health and hospice services. She is honored to be KQED and Union Bank's Local Hero.

Watch KQED's video on Nancy's "Local Hero" Award

View Karen Dea's photo book in celebration of Nancy's Award