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Dr. Joseph Wong of Toronto and Yee Hong Geriatric Centre (:Yee Hong;)

Top level Outstanding Canadian Chinese

In our January issue, we drew your attention to Yee Hong and the fund-raising program aired on February 22, 2003 on Jade Channel, TVB.

In this issue, we wish to introduce the man and the main driving force behind Yee Hong - Dr. Joseph Wong of Toronto. He is a truly outstanding Chinese Canadian in every sense of the word.

Joseph Wong

As early as 1986, Toronto Star named him its :Man of the Year; and he received the City of Toronto・s highest honour, the Award of Merits. These awards were made, mainly, because of Dr. Wong・s fund-raising efforts for Canadian Red Cross and United Way, etc.. Many lesser person would have rest on their laurels but not in the case of Dr. Wong.

In February 1987, Dr. Wong launched a campaign to build a geriatric care centre offering culturally and linguistically appropriate service for the Chinese community. Canada・s first Chinese comprehensive geriatric care centre, the million non-profit Yee Hong Centre, includes a 155 bed nursing home, 130 apartments and a community centre for seniors. The 4.2 acre centre, at the junction of Midland and McNicoll Avenues in Scarborough, opened in October 1994 and is serving over 2,000 seniors everyday.

The success of Yee Hong had to do with the development of the functional program and the blue print of Yee Hong・s services under the leadership of Dr. Wong through his previous visits to many nursing homes and homes for the aged and learned from their most successful or worst features of their programs and designs.

If further led to the award by the Ontario Government in 1998 and later in 2000 the largest number of nursing home beds in the history of Ontario, 715 in total, to Yee Hong and the right to build 3 additional centers by 2004 : the new Markham Yee Hong Centre, the new Mississauga Yee Hong Centre and the new Scarborough Yee Hong Centre. As Dr. Wong had witnessed the plight of Chinese Canadian seniors, their feeling of isolation, being deserted, and hopelessness, he is fully familiar with the impossible situations of seniors being cared for in facilities that do not understand their languages and cultures. With the three new centres, Dr. Wong embarked Yee Hong on an innovative and pioneering trend to serve other ethnic communities. The three new Centres are providing a portion of the beds for the South Asian, Filipino, Japanese and all other Canadian seniors so that they can enjoy cultural familiarity and communicate in their own languages. With four comprehensive geriatric care centres, Yee Hong anticipated to serve upwards of 10,000 seniors everyday by 2004.

The growth of Yee Hong since 1994 is amazing by all accounts. Through Dr. Wong・s leadership, million was raised and 65 beds have been added to the original Yee Hong Centre by 1999. To get all three new Centres built in time by 2004 as mandated by the Ministry of Health, million was raised in 35 months. In October, the new Markham Centre started to admit seniors. The Mississauga Centre is expected to be finished by the fall of 2003 with the new Scarborough Centre to be completed by 2004.

As a role model for geriatric care, the present Yee Hong Centre has been visited and studied by hundreds of delegates from around the world, and its model is being emulated by many geriatric care facilities such as those in Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and some as far as Korea, Hong Kong and China.

Dr. Wong was born in Hong Kong in 1948. He came to Canada 20 years later and enrolled at Montreal・s McGill University, where he earned a degree in electrical engineering. He went to New York to study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and opened his family practice in Toronto in 1982 after finished his post-doctoral training at the University of Toronto teaching hospitals from 1976 to 1981. Dr. Wong is married to Christine, a childhood friend and has two sons, Steven and Michael.

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