Hey, Doc…how to help an immigrant?

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Hurricanes, wildfires, and political storms are taking a major toll. As people leave life-threatening danger, they face a long journey out of critical care to stability. Many may never be the same. If you’re feeling you want to help, but it’s just too difficult, too big to change, take heart. There are so many ways to help.

This is for the health professions:


Dear NP, DPT, OT, DO, MA, RN, SW and Dentist—and all the health professionals: When the waters retreat and the ashes are cleared up (NO IDEA when the political insanity will ever pass) immigrants are going to need you. Yes, please join the peaceful protests on the streets. Bring your own sign or ask to borrow one, link arms with others to protect the vulnerable. Donate where your five or fifty or five hundred dollars will make a difference. But, you are also needed back at the office.

You have patients in immediate danger that need your help now.

With stress and trauma comes increased domestic violence and risks becoming a victim of a sexual assault or trafficking. The health professions are in a unique position to offer important and life-changing care for immigrants and refugees, which can save their lives. It doesn’t require special equipment or costly medicine. You just have to ask about domestic violence and sexual trauma. Past, present, or potential.

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Still from health professions and violence detection video.

You may not have time to march. You may not have time or interest in volunteering. You may be paying off your medical education loans and don’t feel flush enough to donate. But you have an oath and obligation to your patients, and those who are especially stressed and vulnerable right now are immigrants and undocumented people.

As medical professionals you understand better than most people the profound impact trauma has on the health of individuals, families, communities, and, yes, our country as a whole.

With DACA news everywhere, with walls looming large in people’s imaginations—as nightmares for some, fantasies for others–and Tiki torches and polo shirts taking on an absurd/Lord of the Flies menace, it’s not enough to wonder what to do.

The nice thing is that what will help so many is exactly the same care that all of your other patients need, regardless of their citizenship, ethnicity, race, ability, age, gender, socio-economic status, or political affiliation.

Doing nothing may be a choice, but it’s not an option. Please, just do your job.

Click here for a short video on health professions and their role in detecting and preventing DV and Sexual Assault with immigrant patients, or here for additional video resources on DV/SA and the health professions.  These materials were produced by Add Verb and the University of New England, with funding support of the Bingham Program.

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