Refugee project improves health services for all newcomers

Syrian refugees in Interior Health are receiving high-quality, culturally sensitive health-care services.

  • Jul. 26, 2016 10:00 a.m.

Syrian refugees in Interior Health are receiving high-quality, culturally sensitive health-care services thanks to Interior Health’s recent work to develop a systematic, evidence-based care approach for this population, reports the Interior Health board.

In November 2015, Interior Health learned that up to 400 Syrian refugees could be arriving to local communities over the winter months. At the time, there wasn’t an organized system in place to respond to the health-care needs of newcomers to the area. Today, things are very different.

“I applaud Interior Health for their quick and diligent work to provide the high quality health care B.C. is known for to hundreds of Syrian newcomers,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “This is a great example of how teamwork among health-care practitioners and community partners can result in improved patient care.”

“A lot of incredible work happened in a very short period of time,” said Leslie Bryant MacLean, Leader of Quality and Projects for Population Health with Interior Health.

“Through collaboration with physicians, nurse practitioners, community agencies, municipalities and other stakeholders, care pathways were developed, clinical tools were created, and education was provided on a number of topics including billing, cultural competence, health-care assessments and more.”

In addition, Interior Health began identifying and recruiting a range of health-care providers (physicians, specialists, midwives, dentists, physiotherapists, and optometrists) who were willing to deliver care to refugees through the Interim Federal Health (IFH) program.

Contact lists were developed for 18 communities to make finding health-care providers as easy as possible for the new arrivals.

From early November 2015 to the end of April 2016, 135 Syrian refugees settled in communities within Interior Health.

While that number is lower than initial projections, the need for health-care services and support was significant. The new pathways and protocols helped ensure high-quality, evidence-based care was being delivered.

“Refugees face so many challenges when arriving in a new country and we wanted to make sure that accessing health care was as easy, comfortable, and welcoming as possible. The primary care centres did an amazing job accommodating urgent-care needs and using Arabic signage to welcome the refugees,” added Bryant MacLean.

Refugee health teams were established in primary care centres in Kelowna, Kamloops and Vernon. These primary care centres served as health-care hubs providing screening, immunization, and addressing immediate health-care needs of refugees, as well as making referrals for treatment of chronic health concerns like diabetes and heart disease. Nurse practitioners were instrumental as primary care providers for the Syrian newcomers.

“We provided primary care with a nursing lens. Many of the cultural, social, and language needs were addressed seamlessly along with clinical diagnoses and treatment,” said Colleen Regehr, Nurse Practitioner in Kamloops.

The tools and pathways developed also helped community agencies, like Kelowna Community Resources, connect refugees with health-care services.

“We are very excited about Interior Health’s proactive approach to serving refugees. The collaboration between Kelowna Community Resources and Interior Health has ensured a seamless service for newly arrived Syrians to our community,” said Katelin Mitchell, Immigrant Services Manager for Kelowna Community Resources. “Our team is grateful to be able to pick up the phone and have immediate assistance to help these families navigate the health-care system.

The lists of health-care professionals registered with IFH has been a great asset.”

“As a first generation immigrant to Canada myself, I personally understand the challenges newcomers face when arriving in a new country.

“I am so proud of the hard work and commitment that our health-care teams have dedicated to this initiative over the past several months,” says Erwin Malzer, Interior Health Board Chair. “Their focus on providing culturally sensitive health care helps ensure Interior Health continues to deliver top-notch care to all newcomers. The success of this initiative also strengthens our commitment going forward to provide culturally sensitive care that addresses the needs of all marginalized populations within Interior Health.”

Just Posted

Michelle Jacobs receives her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 28, 2021. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
126 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

There are 22 individuals hospitalized due to the virus, and 13 in intensive care

A Cariboo Regional District director and School District 27 trustee, Angie Delainey is also a fourth generation business owner in downtown Williams Lake. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Angie Delainey appointed Cariboo Regional District representative on regional board

Delainey and Steve Forseth represent the CRD at the North Central Local Government Association

Pauline Schmutz, 75, receives her COVID-19 vaccine from public health nurse Donna McKenzie on Tuesday, April 13 at the community clinic at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Additional COVID-19 vaccine clinics scheduled for Horsefly, Big Lake

Anyone 18 and over who has not received a vaccine yet is encouraged to register

The Cariboo Regional District. (Angie Mindus photo)
Industrial park slated for Watch Lake Road

Building company Omnitek to start building new plant on 32-acre site

Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort on Puntzi Lake has been purchased by Tsideldel First Nation. (Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort photo)
Tsideldel First Nation buys Kokanee Bay Fishing Resort at Puntzi Lake

“It’s a good opportunity for the band, our children and our future,” said Chief Otis Guichon

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Vancouver Canucks’ Jake Virtanen (18) and Calgary Flames’ Josh Leivo, front right, vie for the puck as goalie Jacob Markstrom, back left, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Saturday, February 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen sued over alleged sexual assault

Statement of claim says the woman, identified only by her initials, suffered physical and emotional damages

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Most Read