Chien-Wen Tseng: Local Hero, MD

Pictured: Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng (left) volunteers with community members to clean debris left by the flood. Photo courtesy of Dr. Tseng.

By Tina Shelton, JABSOM Communications Director (via UHMedNow)

May 24, 2019 — Family Medicine’s Dr. Chien-Wen Tseng would be the first to tell you that all of JABSOM’s academic medicine physicians are heroes, and she is not wrong. They treat patients while guiding MD students or supervising MD Residents and Fellows, some while also running departments or divisions within the medical school. We salute them!

We are singling out Dr. Tseng, because she has had an extraordinary year. As the first person from Hawaiʻi ever to be appointed to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, Dr. Tseng and her panel help shape health policy in America. This year she was assigned to be a task force spokesperson on two important announcements about new recommendations in women’s health. In February 2018, she spoke to local and national news media about a concerning uptick in the number of infants born with congenital syphilis, which can cause deformities, blindness, deafness or even the baby’s death.

The task force’s recommendation, reaffirmed through Dr. Tseng’s statements, was that all pregnant women should be screened for syphilis. In June, 2018, she was tapped to help spread public information about the recommendation that women 65 and older should be screened for osteoporosis. She was interviewed or quoted by media outlets including National Public Radio, the Boston Globe, Science Daily, United Press International and did a podcast with the editor of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Dr. Tseng also pitched out in a more down-to-earth fashion during the year. In May 2018, she joined a hardy group of neighborhood volunteers with shovels and mops who helped others clean up after what was the worst flooding to strike in East Honolulu in 30 years. She and other members of ʻĀina Haina Prepared went house to house to help families clean debris, and to bail out the flooded ʻĀina Haina Public Library, too. She said the real heroes were community members and volunteers from all over the state who spent multiple weekends helping families carry mud-laden furniture out of houses to curbs and scrubbing floors and walls.

“One thing that struck me about the experience was that in a disaster, you often really have to rely on yourself and your neighbors to be the first line of help.”