With special thanks to collaborative partners at Watts School of Nursing and Duke University Students of Nursing (DUSON), CWS-RDU held a health fair for new arrivals last Friday. We covered topics like oral hygiene, exercise and fitness, nutrition, BMI and blood pressure, CPR and home emergencies, and how to navigate and understand the American medical insurance system.
25 new arrivals attended the health fair and learned many applicable skills! Attendees learned how to calculate their body mass index, and practiced converting their height and weight from metric measurements to (American) standard measurements. There were interactive booths with information about healthy eating, fitness, and stretching routines using different sized hand weights. Refugee parents learned how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on child-size practice dummies, and learned basic theory behind CPR-related chest compressions.
Health advocacy is one particular barrier to adjustment to life in the US that almost all refugees face. The US medical insurance system alone is tricky even for those of us born and raised here. When we factor in the variety of cultural norms surrounding medicine and doctor/patient relationships that refugees bring with them, coupled with limited ESL assistance at doctors offices or hospitals, refugees remain quite vulnerable when attempting to navigate the intricacies of medical care in America.
The partnerships with Watts School of Nursing and the DUSON program are reflective of the incredibly helpful resources available to new arrivals by way of community partnerships with CWS. Nearly all of the nursing students came dressed in their white coats, and refugees were able to use the health fair as an opportunity to meet care providers in a space that was safe, supportive, and tailored to their needs. The participating medical students, in turn, regularly gain invaluable insight as a result of their service learning experiences into the diversity in patient care, and the accessibility and importance of culturally competent medical and mental health care for refugees and US citizens alike.