Mr. Heng and his wife are both participants at PACE Berkeley.

In Celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: The Journey of A Chinese Immigrant

How PACE Bridges Health Equity: Meet Mr. Liu Ju Heng

In the heart of San Francisco's bustling streets resided Mr. Liu Ju Heng, an 84-year-old immigrant from China whose life took an unforeseen turn when his eyesight began to fade due to glaucoma. Once vibrant with color and clarity, his world gradually dimmed, casting shadows of uncertainty over his daily routines. As a Cantonese speaker navigating life in a predominantly English-speaking environment, Mr. Heng faced additional challenges accessing crucial healthcare services.

The turning point arrived when Mr. Heng found himself unable to decipher bus numbers, essential for reaching medical appointments for both himself and his wife, who was bravely battling cancer. Transporting themselves from their home in San Francisco to Oakland for medical care became a daunting task as Mr. Heng's vision deteriorated, leaving him legally blind.

Soon after, the couple moved into a senior group home in Berkeley. Still, the true hope came from PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly), a comprehensive healthcare program tailored for seniors like Mr. Heng and his wife. PACE not only offered medical services but also provided a lifeline of support, understanding, and inclusivity. Developed over 50 years ago by a doctor and a social worker specifically for elders like him, PACE provides comprehensive care coordination under one cohesive plan.

Enrolling in PACE

Enrolling in PACE marked a transformative chapter in Mr. Heng's life. He explains, "When I first inquired at Center for Elder's Independence (CEI), I knew I was in good hands. The enrollment specialist spoke fluent Cantonese and visited us at home to see if I was a good fit for the program. She helped me complete all the paperwork, which was difficult for me to do by myself due to my eyesight. Two months later, my wife joined CEI as well."


With all the language accommodations at CEI in place, Mr. Heng found solace in being understood and respected, overcoming the language barrier that once hindered his access to care. Through PACE's coordinated efforts, transportation to and from medical appointments became seamless, alleviating the burden of navigating public transit with impaired vision.


The services go beyond your regular healthcare program. Data from 2019* indicates that, in comparison to individuals without disabilities, those with disabilities experience heightened rates of depression and anxiety and lower levels of physical activity. Attending the PACE center once a week provides Mr. Heng with vital healthcare services and fosters meaningful connections, enriching his social life and mental well-being.

Mr Heng shares, "Having my medicines arrive directly at my home on time and in pre-packaged daily doses is very convenient, as I cannot read the medicine bottles. I was treated with acupuncture when I had trouble with my hands, and the issue disappeared. I get to discuss current events with my wife and new Cantonese-speaking friends at the center. We have both been healthier and well taken care of. There are many good things to say about CEI and PACE."

By sharing his experiences, Mr. Heng amplifies the call for inclusive healthcare practices for all seniors, regardless of their health conditions or backgrounds.  With PACE, Mr. Heng found not just a program, but an entire interdisciplinary team of professionals who share the mission to provide tailored care, comprehensive support and a nurturing community environment – all  necessary for his well-being, independence and a fulfilling quality of life.  As healthcare systems strive towards inclusivity and accessibility, Mr. Heng's journey illuminates the path toward a brighter, more equitable future for all seniors.


*Okoro CA, Hollis ND, Cyrus AC, Griffin-Blake S. Prevalence of Disabilities and Health Care Access by Disability Status and Type Among Adults — United States, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2018;67:882–887. DOI: