Here at the New American Center, we make an effort to integrate health awareness into the ESL curriculum. In our health chapter for class, we cover the basics such as body parts, verbs to express different health-related feelings, how to interact with your doctor, and how to recognize different illnesses and diseases. Just as we work alongside Lynn Community Health Center, our most recent project has been a collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Health, in which we are working to educate our clients about Tuberculosis. Over 65% of the TB cases in the United States were found in people who were born in other countries, primarily Asian and sub-Saharan African nations. As these are two regions from where many of our clients arrive, it is important that we educate them about this disease, as many of them have been susceptible to exposure. Moreover, we must instruct them on how they can be tested, so if they do test positive, they can seek and receive proper treatment.
Medical Intepretation Training
In the Spring of every year, we have the privilege of offering our clients a medical interpreation training program, led by the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In what is becoming a fast-growing industry, many doctors around the country and the world seek interpreters to help them properly communicate with patients who speak a different language. In communicating with a doctor, it is important that the patient knows the exact diagnosis of their condition so they are aware of what must follow. Thus, medical interpreters are trained in very specific medical vocabulary terms, both in their native language and in English. We highly encourage our more advanced English-speaking clients to participate in this program, as some of their native languages are not widely spoken and are therefore higher in demand. Upon completion of this training course, which requries the passing of both a written and oral exam, students are presented with a certificate that officially allows them to provide interpretation in any medical setting across the country.
Lynn Community Health Center
One of our strongest partnerships within the Lynn community is with the Lynn Community Health Center. We have worked closely with the staff for years to provide various health workshops and trainings for our clients. On our end, we have also provided training for LCHC about the resettlement process of a refugee, particularly the challenges they face upon arrival, in order that the staff can work together to better serve the population. Our most recent collaboration took place in the Spring of 2014, in which LCHC provided two workshops regarding women's health. The first took place at the health center, in which our female clients visited different stations that provided information about symptoms and proper treatments for conditions affecting women only. The second workshop took place at the New American Center, during which the clients had the chance to listen to doctors and nurses explain more in depth the measures that women must take on a daily basis to properly care for themselves.
Why is it important?
Refugees tend to demonstrate an especially strong need for medical services, having experienced events that have been extremely detrimental to their overall health. Once in the U.S., refugees have access to this much-needed healthcare but must first overcome unique linguistic and cultural barriers to access it.
Limited English skills and lack of exposure to U.S. healthcare often prevent refugees from receiving both emergency and preventative medical care. We make sure clients know where to go to obtain appropriate healthcare, convey the importance of regular checkups and attending scheduled appointments, and contact medical offices or insurance companies on a client's behalf. We work with the Lynn Community Health Center and other local healthcare providers to supply education, support, and translation services. The major goals of the program are:
Educating refugees about the healthcare system
Educating refugees about the nature of and need for preventative healthcare
Increasing the cultural resources available to service providers
Providing community interpreters to accompany clients to medical appointments
Providing patient advocacy for refugee populations
Providing education on health-related issues such as nutrition and exercise, domestic violence, mental health, managing long-term illness, and substance abuse
Educating families by extending services to refugee children