New UCLA clinic in downtown Los Angeles a salve for lymphoma survivor


Patient Heakyung Kim was able to concentrate her care in one location.

When Heakyung Kim started having chronic abdominal pains, she decided she’d switch from her old medical provider to UCLA Health to find a new primary care doctor. She chose Pauline Yi, MD, as her primary care physician for two reasons: Dr. Yi speaks Korean — Kim’s native language — and practices out of UCLA’s new Primary & Specialty Care clinic in downtown Los Angeles.

Kim lives in Diamond Bar, so she felt Santa Monica and Westwood were too far away for regular appointments. “But downtown L.A. is something I was able to manage,” she says.

Located in the heart of downtown, the clinic opened earlier this year. It offers general pediatric and internal medicine, along with a range of specialties including cardiology, hematology/oncology, rheumatology and sports medicine — factors important to many Californians as they shop for health insurance that gives them access to quality, convenient care during open enrollment.

Shortly after becoming a patient there in May, Kim was diagnosed with lymphoma. She says Dr. Yi expedited the care and treatment that helped the disease to go into remission.

“From the very first meeting I had with Dr. Yi, she removed the lead time in seeing specialists,” Kim. “When you are in so much pain, every minute counts.”

Kim was also treated by a cardiologist, endocrinologist and oncologist at the downtown clinic. She received chemotherapy on site, too. She says she didn’t have to wait to have tests performed or for appointments with specialists because everything was handled in the same location.

“They took care of every step at the clinic,” Kim says. “That was the beauty. Everything I do at UCLA is all connected. I don’t have to pass around messages from one doctor to another. They have my records and they talk to each other.

“So I didn’t have to worry about anything. I could just focus on getting better.”

That’s one of the perks of the new clinic, Dr. Yi says: “In one day, you can see all the specialists and concentrate your appointments.”

Kim’s experiences with her new doctor and new clinic have been so positive that she insisted her husband and her mother also make Dr. Yi their primary physician, and the downtown clinic their new medical home.

Dr. Yi’s ability to speak Korean is particularly helpful, Kim says, for both her and her mother.

“There are certain things — when I try to explain the pain or certain sensations that I have — sometimes I can use Korean better for certain adjectives and adverbs,” Kim says. “My mom is 82 years old and her English is somewhat limited.”

Above all, Kim was touched by Dr. Yi’s warm and attentive approach when she needed it most.

“She’s full of energy and she cares,” Kim says. “With a primary physician, that’s what I expect.”

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