by Winston Chua
SAN MARINO – It is one of hisfavorite games, one of strategy and training the mind to think several steps ofahead of one’s opponent, so as to capture his or her pieces. Known as Japan’s“Go”, it is Matthew Lin’s game of choice for his pleasure and his life. And hehas certainly captured a lot of pieces!
The same forward thinking anddeliberation Lin uses in the game has propelled Lin to where he is today, yearsago becoming the first Asian American city councilman in San Marino, anorthopedic surgeon and owner of the tallest house in San Marino.
For those familiar with MTV Cribs,it is a television show that takes everyday people into extraordinary, evenpalatial pieces of property owned by the most glamorous of celebrities who havethe money for mansions.
Walking around the home of Dr.Matthew Lin is like watching MTV Cribs, only without a remote control and eyesglued to the boob tube.
His house is San Marino’s versionof the White House. Four stories high, it was awarded the honor of becomingPasadena’s Showcase House of Design for 2009. Designers remade parts of hishome and the city even modified his family’s driveway to accommodate thethrongs of people outside of San Marino to view his behemoth home. What wasonce his parking garage is now a home entertainment center with a collection of30,000 movies.
Given his success, it is hard tobelieve that Lin came to the United States with no more than a suitcase full ofclothes and a few hundred dollars in his pocket.
Lin beganthe fulfillment to an American dream after coming alongside his lifelongcompanion, Joy, to Baltimore, Md. as an orthopedic surgeon in 1973. Medicine isin his family’s blood. He is the son of a physician. His sister married adoctor. Another sister is a pharmacist whose husband is also a pharmacist, hisbrother is a dentist and his younger brother is a nephrologist.
A physicianin the 1970s who is still practicing today, he has serious thoughts on how hewould reform health care, as well as the United States. But part of his road tosuccess has not only come from medicine but sound judgment in real estate.
In Baltimore, after several yearsas a doctor and some financial help from his cousin, he made a $1,500 downpayment on a condominium. After making what now seem like paltry monthlypayments, he in1978 turned that investment into a profit of almost $10,000 ashis property appreciated in equity.
“Wow,now that is good business,” said Lin, as he remembered how he felt duringthe time of one of his first major business transaction in America.
Thebusiness deal was the first in a series of prudent choices for Lin, whetherthey be revamping and renovating existing residences or branching out intoincome generating properties.
After leaving Baltimore for theCity of Angels, Lin invested in apartments, redeveloped them and then turnedthem around. Meanwhile, he practiced medicine in Monterey Park, Alhambra andthe San Gabriel Valley.
Today he is involved in thedevelopment and investment of a senior center and health care properties. Themanagement skills he developed in real estate gave him both the foundation andplatform for the influential positions he holds today, which include histhoughts on health care reform.
Lin said that our nation’s health caresystem is in nothing short of an inefficient mess, where at 17-percent of theGDP in the United States, hospitals struggle to break even. When prosthesisprocedures that cost $9,000 require week-long hospital stays that exceed$10,000, hospitals that are reimbursed by just $12,000 have no chance ofsurviving.
Lin is not very hopeful about whatnational health care reform might look like, especially if it means cuttingpersonnel that are required to maintain a healthy hospital. St. Luke’s MedicalCenter, Santa Teresita Hospital, Monrovia Community Hospital and ElastarCommunity Hospital are among the nearby hospitals that have closed down in thepast dozen years.
Making his mark internationally,Lin has served the underprivileged in Italy, Sri Lanka and El Salvador. He andhis sons donated 400 pounds of books to Malawi and brought medicine with afriend to the Tibetans in the Himalayas. Lin has four children.
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