winter 2013

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MUN Med Gateway

 

Helping refugees access health care in St. John’s


MUN Med Gateway Photo

 

Did you know that each year St. John’s welcomes many refugees who have fled their home country to escape combat zones, environmental devastation, or persecution based on sex, race, religion, nationality or political opinion?

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Did you know that each year St. John’s welcomes many refugees to our capital city? These are individuals and families who have fled from their home country to escape combat zones, environmental devastation, or persecution based on sex, race, religion, nationality or political opinion. Most of the refugees who come to St. John’s have been sponsored by the federal government and St. John’s is selected to be their new home.

Refugees often escape situations without some members of their family and with few, if any, possessions; when they arrive here they must begin the intensive process of settlement. There is much to be done, from learning English, setting up a new home, enrolling kids in school, navigating public transit, and learning to shop for groceries (a very daunting task for many, especially those who have been accustomed to food rations provided in refugee camps). There are wonderful services in St. John's to assist refugee newcomers, many of which are provided by the Association for New Canadians, but settlement is still a long and challenging road.

How MUN Med Gateway helps

Originated by students in 2006, MUN Med Gateway is a partnership between Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, the Association for New Canadians and Eastern Health that aims to increase access to health care for refugees in St. John’s. The student-led, faculty-supervised program assists newcomer refugees by taking their medical history, conducting an initial physical screening, matching them with a family doctor and providing referrals to specialists as needed. MUN Med Gateway’s student volunteers also undertake a variety of initiatives to address other needs, including fundraising to purchase car seats for families, assisting with Well Woman clinics, and hosting an annual holiday festivity party.

Benefits of MUN Med Gateway

Through MUN Med Gateway, refugee participants are introduced into the Canadian health care system, build a foundation for beginning their relationship with a family doctor, and receive assistance for immediate health needs. Gateway’s student volunteers gain valuable experience in providing health care across cultures and learn how tremendously rewarding it can be to serve vulnerable populations in our community. Our community also benefits from increased health and wellbeing of a vulnerable population, and future doctors with greater awareness of the needs of patients from different cultural backgrounds.

For more information about MUN Med Gateway, check out the website at www.med.mun.ca/munmedgateway or contact Kate Duff, coordinator, at (709) 777-7028.

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