With a dedication to improving healthcare accessibility and celebrating cultural diversity, Hannah Chi has been serving patients and staff at Erie since 2014. After starting her career in business and sales for consumer goods companies, Hannah realized her desire to contribute to helping others. Since then, she has committed herself to enhancing the experience of both staff and patients at Erie Humboldt Park Health Center. Learn more about Hannah's journey and her efforts to positively impact the community by reading her profile on the Erie Lights website.
What inspired you to pursue a career in your field?
I started my career out of college in a corporate space. After working in that area for several years, I realized that was not my calling and began pursuing a career change to public health. My family immigrated to this county and faced challenges in accessing and affording healthcare services, as I imagine many immigrant families face. As an adult, I realized that I wanted to contribute to others not having to go through similar experiences. I wanted to be part of a helping field and eventually found public health, but it all started with the desire to help.
What led to you becoming a Health Center Operations Director at Erie?
A classmate in my MPH (Master of Public Health) program cohort was completing her practicum at Erie. She shared her experience and all that her practicum entailed, which sounded like a good fit for what I was looking for. I initially interviewed for an analytical position, but my interviewer gathered that I wanted to work more directly with people and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. The interviewer connected me with another department hiring for a program manager position, which I eventually got. Since then, my role has evolved from programming to operations.
Can you walk us through a typical day for a Health Center Operations Director?
No two days are alike in HCO. Typically, the day starts with checking emails and responding to urgent matters. I will check in with our SMD and Operations Manager, do morning rounds, and Environment of Care walkthroughs. As I do my rounds, it allows the opportunity to say good morning and follow up with folks on any issues, pending items, and see if team members need anything. There are usually a variety of meetings throughout the day and patient concerns/feedback to address. I try to check in with the team throughout the day to ensure they have what they need to do their work.
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
The most rewarding part is knowing that I have a small role in helping someone grow. When you take a step back, you realize that you are working to help your teams grow; supporting their professional growth and goals, encouraging them to work at the top of their license which then in turn supports our patients and meets their needs.
What are some of your favorite hobbies or pastimes outside of work?
I really enjoy reading. It is part of my nightly routine. I also enjoy walking to clear my head, hanging out with friends, and sharing a good meal.
What is something most people don't know about you?
I am an introvert. I get energy from having restorative me time. This role takes me out of my normal introverted comfort zone, where I engage with people all day.
During the day, I want to be as available to the team as possible. I welcome conversations and catch-ups and love engaging with people. But it is also incredibly taxing for my introverted self. At the end of the day, I need that time to regroup, which is why I enjoy walking.
What is your favorite book, musician, or artist?
I recently read a book called Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner. It's a memoir by a Korean American that explores the author's relationship with her culture, history, and mother through the lens of food. As a Korean American, the story resonated deeply with me, and I found it tremendously insightful.
What does being Asian-American mean to you?
I am incredibly proud of my culture and heritage. Asian-Americans have often been known as the model minority, encouraged to work hard and assimilate into American culture. In recent years, in light of COVID, the AANHPI community has faced extreme hatred and attacks. This was the first time I really saw and experienced our community standing up for ourselves, speaking out, and protecting each other. Having a month to celebrate the diversity of the AANHPI community means a lot to me, as it gives our community a chance to be seen and heard. I am embracing and celebrating my culture and ethnicity instead of trying to shrink and hide it.
What steps can we take as a society to better honor and appreciate the contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders throughout history?
Be curious and ask questions! The term “Asian” includes people from many different countries and heritages, each one unique, and I would love to share about mine! Also, with anti-Asian rhetoric and hate crimes continuing to take place in the U.S. and around the world, it is critical to be an ally and practice anti-racism in solidarity with Asian communities.