PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Dr. Bon Ku really does it all.
He’s a professor at Thomas Jefferson University, where he serves as the director of the Health Design Lab, an initiative aimed at creating products and services that improve health care.
“Whether it’s visiting the emergency room, being admitted to the hospital, to experiencing what it’s like to do a telehealth visit. I think if we apply human-centered design to these experiences, we can make them more humane and it can help us to heal better,” he said.
And empathy is what he takes into his overnight shifts at Jefferson’s ER, because many of those patients aren’t so different from his own parents — South Korean immigrants who scratched and clawed to make ends meet.
“We grew up really poor. They worked in flea markets and gas stations. We didn’t have medical insurance actually, so I remember my parents having to pay in cash for health care, and that really bothered me.
“One reason I went into emergency medicine was I wanted to help patients that were like my parents — who were immigrants, who were uninsured or underinsured.”
Years ago, Ku developed a space for homeless people to recover after they got out of the hospital.
He also ran free vaccine clinics during the pandemic, co-wrote a book, speaks at conferences and hosts a podcast on health design. Ku values creativity and has been trying to break the mold of what people may perceive Asian Americans to be.
“I grew up skateboarding and I’m an East Coast surfer, so often I’m the only Asian in the lineup in New Jersey where I surf,” he noted.
With so much to do, there’s little time for Ku to rest.
“I believe in banking on sleep on weekends. I try to catch up, but I run on a lot of caffeine. That helps me out.”
Throughout Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, KYW Newsradio is celebrating the contributions of these diverse and essential communities with an audio series called “Asian Americans Making Their Mark.”
Asian Americans are a diverse group comprising more than 30 ethnicities and nationalities and are the fastest-growing racial group in the United States. This series, led by KYW’s Denise Nakano and Tim Jimenez, recognizes their history, culture and achievements in the Philadelphia region at a time when AAPI communities are seeing a rise in anti-Asian speech and activity across the country.
Join KYW throughout the month of May as we celebrate the journeys, cultures and unique life experiences of people from Philadelphia’s AAPI communities.