Home World Refugee Day: UVA Health clinic has cared for more than 4,500 patients from 84 countries
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World Refugee Day: UVA Health clinic has cared for more than 4,500 patients from 84 countries

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As the United Nations commemorates World Refugee Day today, a UVA Health clinic marks more than 20 years of serving refugees in Central Virginia.

Founded in October 2002, the International Family Medicine Clinic provides comprehensive, timely, culturally sensitive and high-quality healthcare for the region’s refugees and special immigrant visa holders. Since its creation, the clinic has cared for more than 4,500 patients from 84 countries who speak 79 different languages. The most common countries of origin include Afghanistan, Iraq, Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria.

The clinic works closely with the International Rescue Committee and the Blue Ridge Health District, which provides initial health screenings before the International Family Medicine Clinic becomes the refugees’ primary care provider.

Refugees often arrive with an array of health issues, according to Dr. Fern R. Hauck, a UVA Health family medicine specialist and the clinic’s director. Common conditions include nutritional disorders; skin conditions; dental and vision problems; mental health conditions such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder; abdominal pain caused by a stomach infection called H. pylori; developmental issues for children; chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes; headaches; and back, leg and neck pain. The clinic’s team includes physicians, nurse practitioners, a pharmacist and pharmacy technician, a social worker and a nurse care coordinator.

“Everyone at the clinic takes great pride in being able to address the health needs of our refugee population, many of whom have gone years without receiving medical care,” Hauck said. “It takes a tremendous team in the clinic to make this care possible. I want to especially thank Elizabeth Carpenter, our nurse care coordinator, who is always in close contact with our patients as well as our partners at the International Rescue Committee and the Blue Ridge Health District.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.