Jonas V Nurse Leader Scholar

Vinai Decena, MSN, RN, PHN

University of San Francisco
DNP Student

Vinai Decena is a Laotian refugee, born in a refugee camp in Thailand, and raised in California. Growing up in Modesto, California with other refugees from Southeast Asia, she saw first hand how health care disparities lack of knowledge, language barriers, and lack of health care access affected her parents and the health of her community. This inspired her to become a nurse. She currently works in a skilled nursing facility, as an MDS coordinator, and teaches clinical part-time at a private LVN program. Decena has always been active in her community and since becoming a nurse has helped to organize health-focused events, including a Health and Wellness Fair for the Lao population in Stanislaus and San Joaquin County. She also works in the Laotian community by volunteering translation services, accompanying families to various medical appointments, and serving as a liaison to families in the Laotian community who are facing challenges in making healthcare decisions. She has been very observant of the problems and attentive to the needs. Decena is concerned that some of the community’s ethnic food practices may contribute to health risks. Anecdotally, Decena has seen a high incidence of pancreatic and other cancers in the Laotian populations that she serves.