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Upper Gwynedd Nursing Center Caters to Asian Population

Gwynedd Square Nursing Center offers diverse culture, food, healthcare for Korean patients.

At the Gwyendd Square Nursing Center in Upper Gwynedd, 40 of the facility's 180 residents are Korean, according a story on philly.com. To meet the needs of such a large population, the Center has hired staff to support the needs.

Morris Kaplan, administrator there, said to philly.com that he has hired staff that speak Korean, chefs that cook culturally appropriate foods, and has even expanded worship services, arts and crafts and bingo to include the Center's Korean population.

"When you revere their elders, they revere you," said Kaplan to philly.com.

Some families have a hard time placing their loved ones in such specialized care. The creation of what today is known as Penn Asian Senior Service all started when Im Ja Choi had to find help for her aging mother.

According to a story on philly.com, the Montgomery County mother sought aid for her own mom in 2002 as she battled stomach cancer. Her mother had immigrated to the US from Korea in 1978 to help Choi raise her children, and spoke no English nor cared for American foods.

The PASSi website, Choi's need to care for her 88-year-old mother got her thinking. With she and her husband working full-time, she needed help, but found county options to be lacking for her mother's unique needs. Few care services, according to the article on philly.com, could speak Korean.

"If you cannot communicate, how could you care for somebody?" asked Choi in her interview with philly.com.

Eventually, she found help for her then 62-pound mother with a colostomy bag. The real estate agent who had a master's degree in organizational dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania, soon heard of many more families with similar needs.

Choi formed the Korean American Senior Services home healthcare agency in 2004. By 2005, the requests for help for several area Chinese families spurred a name change of Choi's organization. She created what still today is known as Penn Asian Senior Services, which now assists families with health care needs for elders from Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Korea and India, according to its site.

The agency, which is based in Jenkintown, has assisted 430 elders in 2012. The figure is up 47 percent, according to philly.com from its 2011 client list.

The need has been great in the Montgomery County area. 

Joanne Klien, executive director at the Montgomery County Office of Aging and Adult Services, told philly.com that budget cuts have limited her services. She said she could get them the healthcare aid they need but that it may not be "culturally appropriate."

For more on the serivces at Penn Asian Senior Services, visit the website here or call the Jenkintown-based business at 215-572-1234. For more on Gwynedd Square Nursing Center, visit the site here or call 215-699-5000.

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