Chef Andrews Cheung’s workplace looks, sounds and smells like a typical Chinese kitchen–woks sizzle, fryers crackle and counters are piled high with noodles for chow mein.
But Cheung’s kitchen is not in a restaurant. It’s in a Brooklyn hospital, and the variety of dishes prepared each day are not for ordinary customers–they are made specially for the patients in Lutheran Medical Center’s Chinese Unit.
Launched in 2004, the Chinese Unit–a 16-bed wing on the fourth floor–is the only one of its kind in Brooklyn catering specifically to the burgeoning Chinese immigrant population in Sunset Park.
Though the unit is open to patients of all ethnic backgrounds, it only takes a quick whiff of the Chinese cuisine and a glance at the Chinese art and signs on the walls to understand that the unit was created with Chinese patients in mind.
With Chinese-speaking bilingual and bicultural staff on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the unit allows patients who speak little or no English to communicate easily with physicians, nurses, social workers and volunteers.
For patients like Leong Chu, 72, and her visiting daughter Jean Wu, 46, the Chinese Unit has been a comfort. “It’s no different than home at all,” said Wu.