IRC Holds Health Fair in Prince George's County
This fall the Suburban Washington Resettlement Center’s (SWRC) Special Needs Health Program and School of Nursing Programat Georgetown University embarked on the second semester of an exciting partnership. The partnership offers the SWRC and International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) Special Needs Program as a clinical site for the nursing school’s Public Health Nursing course. Ten students completed their semester-long public health clinical rotation with the IRC supervised by Georgetown nursing instructor, Jean Trotter, and IRC’s Special Needs Care Coordinator, Katja Ericson. The students served as community health workers with refugee families living in the Parkview Gardens apartment complex in Prince George’s County. In pairs of two the students assisted five families with complex medical needs by providing one-on-one education and nursing interventions designed to increase health literacy and self sufficiency. In addition to individual family home visits, the clinical group conducted community public health assessments, coordinated a community health fair, and developed health education material specific to the refugee health needs of their families.
On November 19, 2011, at the height of this year’s flu season, all Parkview Gardens residents were invited to attend the onsite community health fair. The students partnered with the Prince George’s County Health Department who generously provided hundreds of flu vaccines, as well as other local community organizations including Washington Adventist Hospital, Prince George’s County Women Infants and Children’s (WIC ) Program, and the IRC’s Community Interpreter Program. In addition to flu vaccines, participants benefitted from healthy heart and diabetes prevention education with blood pressure readings and blood sugar testing; women’s health and cancer awareness education; family planning and reproductive health education; and information and enrollment with the Women Infants and Children’s (WIC ) government supplemental nutritional program. The event would not have been possible without the partnership of the Prince George’s County Health Department and the Parkview Gardens apartment’s management and staff. The students’ target goal of providing at least 300 flu vaccinations was far exceeded by the more than 430 flu vaccines administered. Prince George’s County deemed the fair to be an enormous success with the students administered the most flu vaccines of all the season’s county flu clinics.
In addition to the community health fair, the students developed an educational tool designed to address the needs of physically disabled refugees and asylees facing serious mobility constraints. As an increased number of refugees and asylees resettled in Maryland live with physical disabilities, the need for additional education was identified. The disability guide focused on topics such as individual rights, reducing stigma, local disability services and benefits, and general logistics of how to physically move throughout the community when mobility is a challenge. The disability guide will serve as an educational tool for the Special Needs Health programs both in Silver Spring and Baltimore. The guide aims to empower and inform individuals and their families on how to live a healthy life in America with a physical disability. The disability guide will be translated into all the major refugee and asylee languages. The Special Needs Programs in Maryland hope to have this tool available for staff and volunteers to use with clients this spring.
Thanks to this partnership special needs clients benefitted from additional home health and community-based support while students gained knowledge and experience related to refugee health. The nursing students identified the personal and professional impact this clinical will have on their future work in the medical field having gained valuable experience working one-on-one with interpreters, communicating cross-culturally, and learning about varying perspectives on healthcare. The Special Needs Health Program at the SWRC intends to continue the partnership with Georgetown’s School of Nursing for the 2012 fall semester.