Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Some advice to health care workers with refugee patients

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 19, 2012

An article in The Observer Dispatch offers some advice from a refugee health fair in Utica, New York:

…Jean Skahan, manager of trainings and programs at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees…[offers] some advice to health care workers with refugee patients:

Throw away the three-page medical history. Most refugees never have received western health care and probably won’t understand half the terms on the history, even with an interpreter’s help.

Don’t assume that refugees understand how bodies work.

When it comes to cancer patients, “encourage and support hope,” she said. Many refugee cultures assume that cancer means certain, imminent death.

Don’t assume you can gauge pain by looking at someone’s face. Some cultures tend not to show pain in front of strangers.

Don’t assume a refugee knows what to do with a prescription. She’s found them in all kinds of strange places in refugee apartments.

Never assume that refugees can’t learn. “These are tough, resilient people,” Skahan said.

Learn about the culture in question. Some nursery nurses told Skahan they worried about some refugee mothers who don’t try to get out of bed after giving birth. Skahan said she looked into it and found out that in their culture, new mothers rest for 40 days while female relatives handle all the work… Read more here

One Response to “Some advice to health care workers with refugee patients”

  1. diing78 said

    Thank you. Useful information.

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