A Medical Mission That Advances With the Times

Tim Change took over as the chairman of Tzu Chi USA Medical Care Foundation on April 27, 2023.
On April 27th, 2023, Tim Chang takes over as the Board Chair of the Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation. Photo/Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation


Dear Board Members, Volunteers, Supporters, Staff, and Friends,

Today, we’ve come together in celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Tzu Chi’s medical mission in the United States – three decades of unwavering commitment to compassion, service, and healing. I have nothing but gratitude for our founder, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, who once said:

“Among the eight sufferings of life, illness is the most painful.”

In this light, Tzu Chi USA’s medical mission was formed in California in 1993 at the current site of our Alhambra Health Center. We’re also grateful to Brother Stephen Huang, who selflessly donated the Alhambra property. Through the efforts and leadership of past CEOs, Dr. Chinlon Lin, Dr. Yen Yun, Dr. Mingchang Hsu, Sister Debra Boudreaux, and Dr. William Keh, our journey has been one of profound impact, touching the lives of countless individuals with that selfless spirit which is at the core of Master Cheng Yen’s teachings. 

Over the past 30 years, we have not only provided medical care to those in need and the uninsured as a free clinic initially and then as Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alikes starting in 2020, but we’ve also created a ripple effect of positive change that extends far beyond the realms of health care. Our impact reaches into the hearts of communities, raising awareness of socio-economic issues underlying the lack of health care for the underprivileged. We’ve integrated the full force of the Tzu Chi volunteer operation system from Tzu Chi USA National Headquarters, TIMA (Tzu Chi International Medical Association) medical professionals and volunteers, social workers, and many other like-minded nonprofits and partnerships in medical outreach and mobile operations.

I’m proud that, to date, the percentage of uninsured patients we serve at Tzu Chi Health Centers is approximately three times more than the average percentage of uninsured patients served at other Federally Qualified Health Centers. This volume of patients is a testament to the dedication of our team toward meeting the healthcare needs of the most underserved members of our communities and upholding Tzu Chi’s missions. 

Thirty years after Tzu Chi’s medical mission in the United States started, the situation here is quite different. We need to keep up with changes in regulations and challenges presented by social progress. For example, this year, when California removes eligibility exclusions to health insurance coverage for all low-income undocumented Californians eligible for Medi-Cal, it will be the state’s most extensive coverage expansion since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. However, undocumented Californians will remain categorically excluded from Covered California under federal policy. Projections indicate that approximately 2.57 million Californians under age 65 (7.9% of the population in California) will remain uninsured, including 520,000 uninsured undocumented residents who earn too much for Medi-Cal and don’t have an affordable offer of employer coverage. The healthcare needs of this group warrant Tzu Chi USA’s particular attention and action. 

In conclusion, from our health centers becoming Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alikes to assisting the community in surviving the pandemic, the commitment to our mission and delivery of quality service demonstrated by Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation (BTCMF) physicians and staff has not wavered. I’m thankful and very proud to be a part of this mission and to serve as the BTCMF’s Chair. We vow to follow the Buddha’s and Master Cheng Yen’s teachings of mercy and kindness for all as our spiritual guidance as we join together to embark on the next 30 years!

Tim Chang

Board Chair
Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation


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