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Healing is her Passion. Meet Dr. Myint Aye, Lutheran's New Multilingual Hospitalist

Dr. Myint Myint Aye is Lutheran Medical Center's new hospitalist charged with increasing the hospital's outreach to the Asian community. She joined Lutheran two weeks ago as part of that institution's "cultural competency" program, which reaches out to Sunset Park's rapidly growing Chinese and other nearby ethnic communities. This unique role earned her a profile in the July 29 issue of the New York Daily News. The following article and photos are courtesy of © New York Daily News, L.P.

By Clem Richardson
Friday, July 29, 2011

Todd Maisel/New York Daily News, L.P.;
reproduced with permission.

You have to imagine Dr. Myint Aye's parents had a challenging time calling their daughters for dinner, since each of the girls had the same first name.

"Burmese names are interesting," Aye (her full name is pronounced Mint A) said. "We don't have last names or first names, just two-word or three-word names. So in the West the last word became like a last name. That is why my whole family has different last names."

The quartet of siblings are: Myint Aye, Myint Tin, Myint Wai, and brother, Wyn Thein.

It was not a hard problem to fix. Aye's mother just gave all the children nicknames.

But Aye's parents still have a name problem; when they say "doctor," three of their four children look up.

Wyn Thein, Myint Tin and Aye are all physicians. And if you find yourself a patient in Brooklyn's Lutheran Medical Center, Aye could be your doctor.

Aye, 38, is Lutheran's new hospitalist, taking the position at the Sunset Park hospital after serving in a similar role at Manhattan's New York Downtown Hospital for three years.

A hospitalist is a doctor, usually an internist, who takes care of a patient while he/she is in the hospital. It is a position that has caught on in the last decade as hospitals strive to be more efficient.

"My role is to assist the community physicians," Aye said. "Before, community physicians, when their patients get sick, they have to come see the patient at the hospital, then go back to the office. They may still have a full schedule of patients to see at their office, so they are very busy.

As a hospitalist, Aye handles the patients' care while in the hospital, communicating with their primary physician the entire time.

"If the patient is sick in the hospital they don't have to come see the patient, I will see the patient," Aye explained. "Then I will communicate with their physician and discuss the care plan. When the patient is discharged I communicate with them and their community physician and send out specific reports on their treatment so that we have a continual care plan.

"If a physician has a busy schedule and someone comes here sick and the doctor can't leave the office and come run back to the hospital to see a patient, I will treat them."

She joined Lutheran two weeks ago as part of that institution's "cultural competency" program, which reaches out to Sunset Park's rapidly growing Chinese and other nearby ethnic communities.

Aye speaks Burmese, English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Her sister is set to join Lutheran as an outpatient doctor in coming weeks.

Aye said she wanted to heal people since she was a child.

"I would see sick people go to the doctor and get better, my family members get sick, go to the doctor and get better, so I knew I wanted to be a doctor," she said.

She was one of only 550 students admitted to medical school in Burma - now Myanmar - after taking a battery of rigorous tests. For a time Aye, her brother and sister were in the same medical school - Myanmar's Institute of Medicine - at the same time. "It helped when we were studying," she said.

She graduated in 1993 and worked as a private physician before following her brother and other family members to the U.S. in 2004. Part of the family settled in Danville, Pa., and some in Our Town.

After taking yet another battery of tests Aye got a residency at New York Downtown Hospital. When those three years ended in 2008 she was asked to stay on as a resident hospitalist.

It is a demanding job. Aye said at Downtown it was not unusual for her to see 15 or more patients a day. "Some days you are seeing patients all day," she said. "A lot of times there are changes in their conditions and you need to spend more time and do more with them."

But Aye said she loves the thrill of the work, of being presented daily puzzles to solve as a way of making a patient better.

"It is exciting," she said. "Patients in the hospital usually are very sick, and you need to be aggressive in their treatment. It's like solving a puzzle.

"For instance, an elderly patient may have multiple problems, so you can't focus just on one of the body's systems, because you have to see the whole body as a person. The medicine that might be good for one disease may have a side effect that is bad for another part of the body. So you need to investigate all these things as part of finding the best treatment.

"Once you get the answer, it's very interesting but sometimes it makes you think really deeply to find out what is happening. But there is always some interesting part to each case."

Click here for the full New York Daily News article that appeared on July 29.

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