HEALTHCARE FOR REFUGEES
The U.S. government jointly with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) conducts health evaluations for all refugees prior to entry into the United States. All refugees come with an official report that shows their results of prior examination upon acceptance into the country.
Regardless of outside testing, every refugee on arrival into the U.S. is expected to go through medical, dental and vision examinations through local, state- and county-funded refugee clinics. Students are allowed to enroll in schools only after their immunization records are provided to school authorities for verification. In general, refugees are healthy upon arrival but many may not have seen a medical professional in many months or years.
In the first month after refugees are transferred to PRERNA’s care, Family Ambassadors give them a welcome orientation about living in the U.S. This includes a home readiness check and basic education about hygiene and sanitation. They also receive essential information on how to stay clean and healthy as well as cleaning supplies for their new home. Once the family is settled in, PRERNA’s healthcare team establishes a baseline of hygiene, medical, dental and vision checks. This process helps develop a routine of preventive and ongoing healthcare as part of the family’s assimilation process.
Our healthcare team introduces refugee families to doctors and dentists, makes appointments and drives them to their medical visits. Often, PRERNA volunteers will advocate for our refugee clients, assisting with communications and providing guidance and emotional support as needed.
The first medical checkups may include immunizations and other special follow-up instructions for patients. Our healthcare team helps refugee families with coordinating subsequent visits and picking up prescriptions. For families with young children and infants, we ensure their little ones’ needs are met by taking them to pediatricians and other medical professionals more suited for their health and well-being.
PRERNA actively partners with mental trauma counseling organizations such as Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), pharmacies like Walgreens and other institutions affiliated or focused on healthcare to provide complementary services and the best care possible. Obstetrics and gynecology (OBGYN) care, dental hygiene, nutrition education and workshops focused on preventive care are also available on an ongoing basis for adults and children as needed. PRERNA volunteers also help families understand the wide range of healthcare plans available. Gaining an understanding of medical insurance, costs, bills and the healthcare system in their community is essential to staying healthy as they rebuild their lives in the U.S.
PRERNA is committed to helping refugees start their new lives with strong physical, mental and emotional health. Please contact PRERNA if you are a healthcare professional or represent a medical services organization and wish to volunteer your time and support.