Cedars-Sinai Blog

Faces of Cedars-Sinai: Patient Navigator Weihao Qu

Weihao Qu, Cedars-Sinai, Patient Navigator, Homeless Resources, Marina Del Rey

Meet Weihao Qu, a patient navigator in the Emergency Department at Cedars-Sinai Marina del Rey Hospital! His primary focus is supporting the coordination of resources for patients experiencing homelessness.

Weihao views his role as being just a very small part of a massive operation, as homelessness continues to be an increasing issue, especially in the Los Angeles area. He finds providing these patients with help and support not to be an act of kindness for other people, but an act of kindness for the community.

"The challenge is being able to navigate undoing those past experiences they have had at other hospitals and establishing a new line of communication and trust."

We sat down with him to further discuss the significance of his work and the impact he hopes to make.

What is your role at Cedars-Sinai?

Weihao Qu: I primarily work with patients experiencing homelessness who are classified as "over-utilizers" of the emergency department, which essentially means they have been to the ER more than 3 times in 3 months.

If they want my help, I'll connect them with a case manager who will manage their case beyond my scope.

What is your background in this field?

WQ: In terms of working with the homeless population in Los Angeles, I began by working for an organization called the "Bruin Shelter," which is a student-run homeless shelter for homeless students at UCLA. After graduating college, I knew that this was what I wanted to do.

What kind of support do you provide for patients experiencing homelessness?

WQ: The help we provide is very much catered to the individual and based on the patient's conditions and specific scenarios. 

My role gives me the invaluable opportunity to meet these patients in a medical capacity and further develop a deeper understanding of what their medical needs are and how that overlaps with their social necessities.

Communicating this with a social worker or case manager who can consistently follow up with the patient can hopefully help the patient find stable housing.

What are some of the challenges you face?

WQ: Usually, these patients are very unaware of what we can do for them due to the traumatic experiences they have most likely faced at other facilities. So, when they come to Cedars-Sinai and a social worker approaches them, they initially think they're going to receive that same form of treatment.

The challenge is being able to navigate undoing those past experiences they have had at other hospitals and establishing a new line of communication and trust.

What inspired your passion for helping others?

WQ: I feel like working with those who are less fortunate and doing this line of work helps people recognize that it's not necessarily about you helping other people. It's about you helping yourself.

There's this notion that when you help less fortunate people, they are somehow "othered" by society as if they are in this separate category of human being from us and that is not the reality. In helping other people, you are helping your community and in that sense, you are helping yourself. 

What kind of impact do you hope to be making?

WQ: I see my role as being a small part of a massive operation. I know homelessness is a huge issue and I know there are so many people in this fight to help those in need.

My role is to try my best to connect these people to better resources and opportunities. I hope I can continue to play my part to the greatest extent that I can.

There's this complex engine that's running. As long as I keep my cylinder pumping in tandem with everyone else, we can hopefully continue to provide better solutions and lives for more people who deserve their best chance.