IRVINE — The poor nurse just thought she was bringing a refreshing dessert — a popsicle — to a new mother. She didn't expect the grandma, shocked, to stop her and intercept the treat.
While refreshing to many, the cold was taboo for Shu-Fen Chen.
After emigrating from Taiwan, Chen gave birth to her first child in a Los Angeles hospital. Her cultural beliefs say a new mother shouldn't touch anything cold for a month after birth, or she will suffer headaches later in life, she says.
Eventually, Chen moved to Irvine, home to one of the largest Chinese American populations in the nation and once home to Irvine Regional Hospital, where she had her second child. There, the nurse knew better.
"So many traditions people cannot believe," said Chen, the executive director of the South Coast Chinese Cultural Assn. in Irvine. "But some nurses just understand our culture."
As Hoag Hospital opens its Irvine campus on Wednesday, replacing Irvine Regional, administrators are hoping they have done enough to understand Irvine residents' cultural beliefs, traditions and language.