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Meet MCPN patients Mohanad and Wafaa!

Mohanad joined the MCPN Board of Directors in 2018

“Globally there are more than 68 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes due to war, famine or persecution, including more than 25 million Refugees and over 3 million seeking asylum,” explained Dr. Angela Haas, medical provider at MCPN’s Elmira Refugee Health Center.

乐动体育官方网站“Historically, less than 1% of this staggering number of displaced persons is ever resettled to a new country,” she continued. “Only those who are most vulnerable are eligible to apply for resettlement, including those with urgent medical needs, women and girls, survivors of torture and children at risk.”

In an increasingly difficult political climate for both immigration and healthcare, MCPN has been consistently evolving to meet the healthcare needs of the most vulnerable populations in our communities, which includes Refugees.  At Elmira Refugee Health Center, one of the services MCPN provides is care for newly arrived Refugees for their first medical exam in the United States.

Mohanad and Wafaa, originally from Baghdad, Iraq, spent the fifteen years prior to immigrating to America in Syria and Malaysia. With Mohanad’s advanced education in petroleum engineering, he enjoyed a long career in academia, most recently serving as the vice president at a university in Malaysia.

乐动体育官方网站In the 1980s, Mohanad spent some time in Colorado, at the School of Mines. It had been on his mind to return to America, in Colorado, for a while, especially during times of conflict in Iraq and Syria. Mohanad explained how several times he and Wafaa had to move, losing everything they owned in the process. He knew they may lose all their possessions again by coming to America, but in 2015, they decided it was worth the risk and began the immigration process for permanent residency.

“Mohanad and Wafaa represent the brave, resilient, hardworking and courageous Refugees who have been forced to flee their homes, communities, families, and careers and resettle to the U.S. They have risked everything to start a new life and bear the heartache of being separated from loved ones including children and grandchildren,” said Dr. Haas.

乐动体育官方网站Shortly after they began their application for immigration, Wafaa woke up and found she had no strength to get out of bed one morning. Mohanad called a doctor, who had to give her eight injections just to give her strength to sit up through the pain she was experiencing in her back. Although the doctor worried it was an aggressive form of cancer, an X-ray revealed that she had a fracture in her lower back. Unfortunately, this caused Wafaa to become bedridden for more than a year, right up until they were approved to come to America.

In 2016, when they arrived in Colorado, resource officers provided a wheelchair to Wafaa. They were sent to Elmira Refugee Health Center in Aurora, where they met Dr. Angela Haas. Dr. Haas listened attentively to all of Mohanad and Wafaa’s health concerns. Mohanad helped translate Wafaa’s worries to English. She wanted to know what had happened to her back, as her previous care providers could not diagnose her.  Dr. Haas informed Wafaa that she had osteoporosis. Wafaa expressed she was relieved to have an answer as she began to prepare for back surgery.

Through Dr. Haas’ compassionate care, Wafaa and Mohanad began to feel a little more at home in America. She sympathized with them about how difficult it must have been to uproot and go through this, yet again. This kindness touched Mohanad and Wafaa, who both credit MCPN with saving their lives.

乐动体育官方网站“There is no way to compare,” Wafaa said, of the healthcare she received in America compared to abroad.

“Our team at Elmira consists of many former Refugees and immigrants themselves who have firsthand knowledge of the daily struggles our patients face. We are honored to be a community partner who supports Refugees in their quest to rebuild their lives in a new country,” added Dr. Haas.

Eventually, Mohanad and Wafaa, who were both receiving medical care at Elmira, were connected with Enas, a Patient Navigator with Aurora Mental Health Center, who works in partnership with MCPN to serve our Refugee patients’ behavioral health needs. One day, Mohanad was chatting with her and said he felt like he needed to do something to give back. She suggested he should get involved with MCPN leadership, maybe as a board member.

“I said, ‘why not?’ I felt like I owed MCPN a lot because they saved my life,” he shared. “I told her absolutely, I will go for it.”

Although Wafaa still faces some health setbacks, she shared she feels comforted knowing her MCPN providers are encouraging her every step of the way. Today, Wafaa is in physical therapy and can walk with an aid. She is taking English classes and continues to persevere with a hope that things will continue to get better.

乐动体育官方网站In Malaysia, she used to make crafts to sell and fundraise for charity causes. She hopes soon she is well enough to start doing so again in Colorado. In the meantime, Mohanad and Wafaa continue to give to MCPN through their insights, advocacy for migrant health on the board and continual joy in the face of trials.

“Mohanad and Wafaa have succeeded in navigating a complicated healthcare system, one which most Americans have difficulty accessing,” said Dr. Haas. “Not only that, but their strive to give back to their new community is a true testament to their compassion and resiliency. Mohanad and Wafaa continue to provide inspiration to others who may be struggling with the same challenges.”

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