In 2002, Professor Robert Detrano of the University of California, a cardiologist, traveled to Beijing, China to work on a sabbatical at the Fu Wai Hospital & Cardiovascular Research Institute. During his two years in Beijing, he became well-acquainted with the Chinese society, culture, language and people. Dr. Detrano also learned that, unlike Beijing, which is modern and relatively progressive, rural China is poor–its medical infrastructure is under-developed and medical personnel there are often under-educated. His studies in Beijing also taught him that both urban and rural China were undergoing an epidemic of cardiovascular disease that was unprecedented with predictions of up to ten million cardiovascular deaths per year by the middle of the 21st century. With the philosophy that all human beings are entitled to the same chance at a healthy, long life, Dr. Detrano founded the China California Heart Watch in 2005, specifically targeting healthcare and health education in rural SW China. Dr. Detrano is a volunteer and receives no compensation from China Cal.
In 2006, Dr. Detrano was joined by Ms. Shan Shan Chen, who had previously worked as an administrative manager for a government bureau in Beijing and had skill and knowledge about working with Chinese government bureaucracies as well as with foreign companies. In October of 2006, China Cal moved into its 120 square meter clinic and office facility in Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province. In 2009, China Cal leased a 90 square meter clinic and volunteer residence in Dali city, 400 kilometers west of Kunming.
In 2009, China Cal earned the support of the Chinese Cardiovascular Society presided over by Professor Dayi Hu of Peking University. Later Professor Hu became President of the China Cal Board of Directors.
Aside from Ms. Chen, nurse Virginia Gonzalez, and nurse assistant Xiao Wei make up China Cal’s full time paid staff. Nurse Virginia introduces herself here.
China Cal depends heavily on volunteer workers. Its 10 member Board of Directors are all volunteers. It also has a volunteer intern recruitment committee and volunteer village doctor training faculty and organizing committee. Volunteer faculty from American and Chinese universities help teach and lead the foreign intern volunteers. These include established and renowned experts like Professor Alfred Hu Young.