Imagine approaching your doctor’s office, worried over your child’s mysterious rash, only to be told that you won’t be seen because you are poor. For Abdissa, a 53-year-old Ethiopian refugee, he was surprised to find healthcare without hassle.
"In Ethiopia it's really terrible because without a certain income to pay for treatment, you can't get care," he said.
In Ethiopia, there’s no insurance and all costs are paid out of pocket. For a family of seven, even if they have money, they would skip care unless it was life threatening.
Abdissa came to the United States two years ago. His wife and five children, ages 6 to 21, joined him this past December.
Recently, his six-year-old daughter had an allergic reaction that caused a break out, he knew exactly who he could trust to provide for his daughter in their own language and in a way that respects his culture.
From the moment he and his family entered the doors of our Marie Reed Health Center, they felt at home.
As patients through the refugee health referral program at Marie Reed, Abdissa and his family have access to health workshops and care coordination. We serve almost 500 refugees a year, with medical care, health education, and assistance with the medical portion of the immigration document process that can include getting vaccinations, blood work and linking them to a Civil Surgeon, a doctor who can complete the paperwork for green card applications.
"They know what to do, they are well organized," he said. "When we received vaccinations they walked us through every step to the necessary person."
He was surprised that the doctors do not just perform exams, but are also concerned about your overall wellbeing.
"The doctors tell me how to eat better and change my eating habits and exercise," he said.
He said the personal attention he and his family receive makes them feel at ease. He considers Hana Erkou, our refugee care coordinator specialist, a member of his family.
Knowing his family has a place to meet their health care needs makes the transition from Ethiopia to America a little easier.
"Hope is when you are secure in your healthcare system."