Refugee Engagement and Community Health holds first clinic in Saskatoon

A group of health care providers held their first successful clinic for refugees in Saskatoon. Mahli Brindamour / Supplied

Refugee Engagement and Community Health (REACH) held its first clinic on Wednesday morning for refugees living in Saskatoon.

Local pediatrician Mahli Brindamour said the group has been in the works for years.

“There were many individuals from professions that were working with refugees, but we didn’t really know each other and didn’t have a centralized place to provide services for refugees,” Brindamour said.

“It’s quite beneficial for them to have a centralized place where they can access most of their health care needs and so that’s why we wanted to set up a dedicated clinic for specialized services, a one-stop shop one might say for refugees in the city.”

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Currently, two family doctors and two pediatricians are involved with REACH and a nurse is also helping out with the cause.

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“Refugees are a very vulnerable population and they have very unique needs … they’ve been exposed to different things, they have made a journey that’s very specific and it takes a professional that is sensitive to that kind of journey,” Brindamour said.

“We’re able to work with interpretation very often, we’re able to understand the barriers that refugees face to access the health care system, to be able to provide better care for refugees.”

Doctors will be volunteering their time for four hours on Wednesdays at the Saskatoon Community Clinic at 455 2 Ave. N.

“It’s a lot of volunteer hours, the physicians give lots of their time … the community clinic has been gracious enough to help us with the location,” Brindamour said.

“We’re hoping to extend our hours but we’re starting slowly and this is what we have so far but we’re hoping to have a fully-functioning, every-day clinic in the future here.”

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Brindamour added that REACH was a co-operative idea made possible by several stakeholders working together and stresses the importance of helping refugees.

“It’s great to have health care, it’s very important but we also need to find ways to better welcome refugees in our city,” Brindamour said.

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“Because before accessing health care, people need to have a roof on their head, food in their fridge, education for their children, a safe place to be so all of those needs to be taken care of before people can truly access health care services and for health care services to be efficient.”

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