3.6 Medical Coverage

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Users of this online learning resource are responsible for connecting with government and local organizations to ensure access to relevant information on refugee sponsorship in their community.



Physical Health and Dental Care



Physical Health Considerations

Refugee newcomers may or may not have frequently visited doctors or dentists before arriving in the resettlement community. They may or may not have health and dental-related issues due to past experiences that have never been fully addressed. Remember that accessing services is ultimately the refugee newcomer’s decision. Your group should meet with the refugee newcomers to making sure they have this essential information:

  • How the healthcare system works. 
  • The nearby services they can access.
  • The benefits they may be entitled to. 

Physical health and dental care tasks

It will be important to foster a two-way conversation between your group and the refugee newcomers to have a mutual understanding of the different perspectives and experiences in accessing health and dental care. For example, you could ask the refugee newcomers how the healthcare system operated in their home and host countries, and their experiences navigating it. In your turn, you could explain how healthcare works in the resettlement country, highlighting any differences, and supporting in finding answers to questions or concerns they may have. Some tasks related to health and dental care may include:

  1. Applying for health coverage, including documentation of coverage, if applicable.
  2. Starting off a general conversation about healthcare system, access to nearby services and benefits.
  3. Providing information on emergency medical services – for example, provide a list of emergency numbers for medical attention, such as ambulance services. 
  4. Identifying a pharmacy accessible to the family that accepts sponsored refugees’ healthcare coverage.
  5. Helping to find a family doctor, dentist, or any other professional needed for both physical and mental wellbeing. Remember to think about referral services and finding medical professionals with cross-cultural competencies whenever possible.
  6. Ensuring appropriate interpretation for appointments, when necessary. Make sure the interpreter signs a confidentiality agreement and that you to provide this information to the refugee newcomers.
  7. Providing information around required and suggested vaccinations (especially for school) or connecting the refugee newcomers to a family doctor.
  8. Developing a plan in case of a medical emergency (who to call, which hospital to go to, who will care for children, etc.) Make sure to collaborate with the sponsored refugees on this to ensure they are comfortable with the plan.



Medical Scenario



Read the scenario below and consider the questions about how sponsorship groups could respond.

During a sponsorship group meeting, one of the members, Sarah, noted that when she was visiting the home of Samira and Ahmed, the refugee newcomers, Samira mentioned that she was having trouble sleeping, lacked energy, and was getting headaches at random times of the day.

How might you adopt a trauma-informed approach to approaching this medical issue?

How could your sponsorship group support Samira in seeking medical assistance?



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