CONCORD-The Refugee Resettlement Program of the Governors Office of Energy and Community Services (ECS) has received a $117,000 grant from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services for preventive health coverage for refugees.
The grant will support a variety of preventive health goals for refugees, including programs to increase knowledge of the American health care system, preventive health practices, and refugee health issues. The grant will also increase resources to overcome language and cultural barriers in meeting the needs of refugees.
"Refugees often come to this country after long periods in extreme conditions that may contribute to health problems," said Joel Green, director of community services at ECS, in announcing the grant. "Receiving health screenings in a supportive atmosphere is one of the most important first steps in restoring good health and in staying healthy."
The grant will be awarded to two Manchester agencies, the citys Health Department and the International Institute of New Hampshire (IINH), and Lutheran Community Services (LCS) in Concord. Typically, refugees are referred to local public health nurses by IINH and LCS, the two private agencies resettling refugees in New Hampshire under contracts with ECS.
"The agencies cooperate to provide a complete health assessment, health orientation, TB screening and follow-up within seven days of arrival in the U.S.," according to Barbara Seebart, refugee coordinator at ECS. "This grant will help support these services as well as extended case management and health education for refugees."
The grant will support the Manchester Health Departments Refugee Health Coordinator in offering health orientations, which include information on tuberculosis, hepatitis B, the services provided by the Manchester Health Department, HMOs and health insurance.
"Each refugee also receives preventive health education on topics such as maternal and child health, personal hygiene, the impact of alcohol and tobacco, and the importance of immunizations," Seebart said.
In delivering all of these services, Seebart notes, the Manchester Health Department, IINH, LCS and ECS rely on the services of bilingual bicultural staff, often from the clients country of origin.
"Interpretation and cultural mediation are critical to the provision of refugee health services," Seebart said. "Health care is an area in which misunderstandings-whether because of a language barrier or differences in what is considered normal and appropriate in a culture-can have serious consequences and need to be eliminated as much as possible."
For more information on this and other refugee programs in New Hampshire, visit the Governors Office of Energy and Community Services web site at www.nhecs.org.
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