IHA prepared to welcome refugees in 2016

Over the next three months, the Interior is expecting up to 400 Syrian refugees

The new year marks a new beginning for Syrian refugees.

Over the next three months, the Interior is expecting up to 400 Syrian refugees, while the average number for a year is 1,000 people.

“This is certainly a higher number than we are used to in a very short time period. It has provided us with an opportunity to focus on ensuring high quality, evidence-based health care for refugees and for all newcomers to our region,” said Dr. Trevor Corneil, chief medical health officer with the Interior Health Authority.

IHA’s population health department has been working with primary care centres, physicians and other health-care providers, community agencies and local municipalities to develop a response plan to meet the health-care needs of refugees.

The team has been working closely with staff from the Bridge Clinic in Vancouver, a preventive and primary care clinic for refugees. Together, they have developed protocols, tools and training for health care providers.

“Although basic health screening takes place prior to refugees’ arrival in Canada, at the local level we have to be prepared to deliver health-care services once they arrive in our region. Immediate health-care needs will range from immunizations to access to medications and mental health supports,” said Leslie Bryant MacLean, program manager for population health.

“We have been working to ensure providers have access to the information they need to provide care in a culturally sensitive manner, while also addressing challenges such as language barriers.”