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International Center expands medical services for refugees

November 29, 2019

Photo by AP Imagery

The International Center of Kentucky received a $20,000 grant from Owensboro Health, in efforts to expand the medical services they offer to their clients. The organization exists to address the needs of refugees and immigrants in their assimilation into the community.

International Center Owensboro Site Director Anna Allen said the grant money will be utilized to hire a new medical coordinator and to host their first-ever Refugee Health Fair this month.

“The medical coordination program we launched with the grant money exists to assist refugees in access to health care,” Allen said. “In August, we hired Skye Benidayta as our medical coordinator. Skye came to us through the U.S. Refugee Program as a child and has grown up in America, which makes her the perfect person to bridge the gap between our newly-arriving clients and the American healthcare system.”

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Part of Benidayta’s role within the organization is to plan and implement a transportation plan for clients, as well as helping orient them to American culture. In addition to this, Benidayta also serves as a translator for many refugees and immigrants.

Born in a Thailand refugee camp, Benidayta’s parents applied to come to the United States to seek better living conditions and opportunities when she was a small child. After having lived in five different cities across America, Benidayta’s parent’s settled in Owensboro. Benidayta is thankful to Owensboro as a community, and to Owensboro Health, for giving her a chance to work in a meaningful job.

“I know what these clients have been through,” Benidayta said. “I have been able to rely on my experiences to serve refugees here while studying social work to better my education. I’m so thankful to Owensboro Health because they have made all of this possible for me, and they have allowed me to help give others a chance to be successful too.”

Along with Benidayta’s hiring, the grant from Owensboro Health served as seed money for the International Center’s Refugee Health Fair, which was hosted on Nov. 9 in their office space at Owensboro Christian Church. Allen was proud of the event, which brought in 142 people.

“Five presentations were given in six different languages,” she said. “Nursing students from the University of Louisville helped by writing out scripts for each presentation and created presentation slides to accompany them. With the scripts, the International Center staff was able to create recordings and interactive hyperlinks of interpreters reciting the scripts to help educate those who attended.”

As a result of the nursing student’s hard work, clients were able to walk up to a booth with the computer, click on their preferred language and listen to each presentation in their native language. The nursing students also donated $500 worth of items for giveaways, which the Center used to give each child a toy and each parent a gift bag. The families were also able to take a bag of clothing donations.

Additionally, 47 of 52 adults who attended the health fair received a flu vaccine from Audubon Area Community Care Clinic.

Through all of the organization’s additions, Allen feels that Owensboro as a community has been able to step to the plate and serve refugees.

“This grant is extremely important to serving our clients,” she said. “When it comes to accessing health care, refugees are a vulnerable population. There are multiple barriers for our clients in seeking to understand and navigate the American healthcare system. This grant allowed us to start a program to help our clients overcome those barriers.”

November 29, 2019

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