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Healthcare for Refugees in Hamilton

Nayab Ahmad
The move to a new country is difficult regardless of who you are and where you are coming from. For months now, the Syrian refugees have been at the forefront of Canadian news. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau answered the refugee crisis by announcing that Canada would be accepting over 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015. Although this news was met with much satisfaction among the general public, the important question of how Canadians would be able to provide for said refugees became an issue. In sticking with our stereotypical warm and welcoming ways, preparations have been underway so as to provide the utmost care for the Syrian refugees. Fast forward to March 2016, various sectors have taken part in these preparations to arrange for adequate shelter, food, and healthcare.

Canada flag It was agreed upon that all Syrian refugees coming to Ontario will have access to full health coverage through interim federal health and the provincial government. Hamilton itself has received a portion of the 25,000 refugees. Concerning healthcare, the Hamilton Centre for Newcomer Health (HCNH) has been at the forefront of providing health services to Hamilton's incoming Syrian refugees. The HCNH specializes in providing primary healthcare services to newcomers in Hamilton. Specifically, the HCNH conducts assessments, provides immunization updates and connects new immigrants and refugees to services through a clinical care path. It is mostly comprised of local doctors and nurse practitioners.

The HCNH is currently dedicating three days a week to seeing Syrian refugees. As of now, the centre has dedicated Mondays, Tuesday, and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Furthermore, Mondays are designated 'walk-in' days so as to provide immediate care. According to the Director of Operations Terri Bedminster, the centre will eventually set aside Saturdays as well to seeing Syrian refugees. In the long term, this will increase the HCNH's capacity to provide adequate healthcare for Syrian refugees inhabiting the Hamilton area.

The treatment of refugees is no small task, and it is to be carried out with a care model that is very complex. Most refugees come from war-ridden countries with a lack of medical equipment and treatment options. Often, the physical and chronic diseases in refugees can be a result of delayed/no treatment as a side effect of war.

refugee flags Physical injuries aside, there is no way to ascertain the psychological state of someone who has come from a war-torn country where death is common. Physical injuries can be treated relatively easily but recovering from psychological trauma is an entirely different issue which must be handled with care. It is evident that the transitioning process will take time for Syrian refugees. Nonetheless, it is obvious that the HCNH is partaking in an important first step towards the settling Syrian refugees in Hamilton.
Nayab Ahmad March 07, 2016

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