Health-system orientation for newcomers

Refugee patients need basic information about how the health system works. You can help by explaining to them in plain language:

Five tips for working with refugee patients

  1. Arrange the next appointment for your patient at the end of each visit. Due to language and other barriers, refugees find it difficult to book their own medical appointments.
  2. Remind them to show their IFHP certificate every time they access services. Write “Covered by IHFP” on prescriptions and requisitions to reduce confusion.
  3. Advise them to contact you, if you are their primary-care provider, if they are asked to pay for services such as lab tests or X-rays. If a refugee patient pays for a service that should have been covered by IFHP, it is very difficult for them to be reimbursed.
  4. Explain to them that 9-1-1 is available in languages other than English and French. If they cannot speak to the operator in English, ask for service in their language of choice by saying the English name of the language. For example, say “Spanish” or “Chinese Cantonese.” The 911 service has access to interpreters who together speak more than 140 languages.
  5. Explain to them the options for seeking treatment in non-life-threatening medical emergencies. Direct them to walk-in clinics, urgent-care centres and pharmacies that are open 24/7.

Bonus tip

Iamsick.ca is a website that will help you find health services close to home when you need it. The website is available in five languages: English, French, Arabic, Spanish and Chinese.

If you or someone you are supporting needs help accessing services for refugees and immigrants, contact the Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre: 613-691-0192 extension 6002.