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Community Health Centres Join Forces to Care for Health Needs of Syrian Refugees in Ottawa

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Six Ottawa Community Health Centres (CHCs) and the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre have joined forces alongside other local health organizations via the Refugee 613 Health Task Force to provide essential urgent primary care and resettlement support to Ottawa’s Syrian refugee population.

As of today, 1024 refugees – including 820 government assisted refugees – have arrived in Ottawa. A large proportion of the refugees are currently temporarily housed at four locations across the city. In this time of need, Ottawa CHCs have acted quickly to bring healthcare to where it is needed most - on-site at the temporary housing sites including three local hotels.

CHCs have set up multiple medical clinics that run regularly at each hotel site where nurse practitioners and nurses provide health care to Ottawa’s Syrian refugee population. Initial screening is done to prioritize health issues that need to be addressed quickly, such as pregnancy and diabetes, and refugees can also get prescriptions for medications they need renewed. The goal is to ensure that while refugees are being temporarily housed, they get the right healthcare at the right place and in a timely way.

“At Somerset West CHC, we’re pleased to have taken a leadership role by working with Refugee 613 to bring partners together to provide the best health care possible to Ottawa’s refugee population. Our efforts show that when it’s needed, people in the health sector are stepping up and working quickly together to do the right thing” says Jack McCarthy, Executive Director of Somerset West CHC and Co-chair of the Refugee 613 Health Task Force.

For the assessment and treatment of chronic health conditions, refugees are being referred to new Refugee Hub Clinics, which have been established at Somerset West CHC, Centretown CHC and Bruyère Family Medicine Centre. The hubs will provide longer-term healthcare while refugees wait to relocate to permanent housing. At that time, CHCs will work through the Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre to help refugees find a family doctor near their new home.

On Thursday, February 11, 150 community health workers from Ottawa CHCs are coming together to collaborate and educate each other on refugee health issues. Their main goal is to continue to work together to bring appropriate care to refugees when and where it is needed.

The workshop is being held at the Dominion Chalmers Church, 355 Cooper St, Ottawa.

Media are welcome to attend opening remarks at 9:00 a.m. Refugee 613 Director Louisa Taylor and Health Task Force co-chair Jack McCarthy will deliver an update on the refugee resettlement in Ottawa.

ABOUT – Refugee 613 Health Task Force                         

Refugee 613 is a grassroots organization coordinating the city of Ottawa’s Syrian refugee resettlement efforts, including housing and healthcare.

The Health Task Force of Refugee 613 brings together Ottawa’s community health centres (six total), the Bruyère Family Medicine Centre, the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), CHEO, and Ottawa Public Health, to create a consolidated approach to refugee health care in order to avoid duplicating services.

The CHCs involved:

-        Somerset West CHC

-        Centretown CHC

-        Carlington CHC

-        Sandy Hill CHC

-        Pinecrest-Queensway CHC; and

-        South-East Ottawa CHC.