REFUGEE CLINIC IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS
District 13 and 15 News:
Dr. Ronald E. Fritz (District 13 Fellow, Volunteer Speaker and 2018 Distinguished Humanitarian Award recipient) had the distinct privilege of being invited by Dr. Moshtagh Farokhi (District 15 Fellow) to view her project in San Antonio, Texas with the senior students she teaches and supervises.
Dr. Fritz was very moved by this experience:
I cannot tell you what an honor it was to attend this remarkable regular event to provide care to people who are recently residing in the USA.
What I saw is dental students working with medical and nursing students, as a team approach, to help a needy population recently arrived. I was totally impressed by what they are being taught to do, and the entire program led me to admire how education is teaching these aspects of Global Citizenship!
Please see the report below.
Ronald E. Fritz, DDS, MPH, FICD
Of the over 10,000 refugees resettled in San Antonio (Texas) since 2010, the majority are from the Middle East, central and eastern Africa, and southeast Asia. The San Antonio Refugee Health Clinic (SARHC) was incepted in 2011 to mitigate a lack of dental and medical services for refugees residing in the local community with an active patient record of 1,383. The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) faculty and students from the schools of dentistry, medicine and nursing have joined together to provide culturally appropriate health care for this population in a nurturing interprofessional environment. The dental, medical and nursing students or the interprofessional education (IPE team) address the needs of refugees through education, collaboration, and prevention. The faculty supervise patient care by serving as mentors and role models for the students. SARHC is The first ever student-run free clinic center for treating refugee patients in the US. SARHC also provides additional biannual dental treatment for this vulnerable population.
This effort identified the oral health status and treatment needs for a sample of refugees at SARHC. Since inception the clinic has treated 954 + 221= 1175 at the clinic + the biannual clinics of 681 and over 90 patients as urgent care clinics with 270 referred to the SOD for treatment. The clinic is operating under the direction of an emergency medicine Physician and with the logistics assistance from the UTHSCSA Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics.
Current refugees are Afghani Special Visa Immigrants, Iraqi Special Visa Immigrants, Burmese patients, and Republic of Congo refugees. Over the years people from all corners of the globe including Africa, Asia including Middle East have been treated at this clinic.
The collaborative team of dental, medical, and nursing students and faculty triages and conducts comprehensive health history and physical assessment of each patient. Patient education—including oral hygiene instruction, tobacco cessation, prescription use, dietary counselling, tailored health promotion strategies and the referral process are conducted with the teach-back to confirm whether patients understand what is explained to them by ensuring a closed loop communication. SARHC operates in close collaboration with a local non-profit social service organization whose mission is to serve the refugee community. This close-knit network of refugee community leaders as interpreters who are adequately trained is key to reaching culturally and linguistically diverse groups of refugees.
To date, 100 students have been trained at this clinic, many as student leaders. The current students are (all seniors):
- Michelle Zhou
- Ahmad Akir
- Alaa Diab
- Jacqueline Sanders
- Azadeh Abdollahi
- Romali Kamat
- Alireza Mehmandoost
Thank you, Dr. Farokhi, for teaching students compassion, cultural competence, and love for humanity!