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National refugee health conference focuses on dealing with trauma, empowering communities

Health care providers from across the United States and Canada and overseas came together in western New York to discuss the most effective approaches to treating refugee populations, many of whom have experienced significant trauma fleeing from conflict zones.

There are between four and five million refugees in the U.S. and their experiences often result in unique health needs.

The 2014 North American Refugee Health Conference brought together practitioners, researchers, navigators and community members under the auspices of the Rochester Academy of Medicine and Rochester General Hospital.

The WXXI Innovation Trail's Michelle Faust and Matthew Leonard spoke with some of the attendees.

Hussam Jefee-Bahloul was born and raised in Syria and studied medicine there before arriving in the US in 2008 to do a residency in psychiatry. He’s currently a Clinical Fellow in the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. Jefee-Bahloul presented about how he uses technology to help refugees from his country of origin.
Doctor Kathleen Connors is the executive director of Georgia Refugee Health and Mental Health based in Atlanta. During day one of the conference, Connors discussed the lessons she learned running a Navigator organization that helped enroll mostly refugee communities.

Paul Boyle, is of Irish/Scots descent but now lives with his family in Kenya. He’s a trainer and trauma therapist who, after a long period of time working in refugee camps is using his experience to support and empower care providers.

Michelle Faust, MA, is a reporter/ producer whose work focuses strongly on issues related to health and health policy. She joined the WXXI newsroom in February 2014, and in short time became the lead producer on the Understanding the Affordable Care Act series. Michelle is a reporter with the health collaborative Side Effects and regularly contributes to The Innovation Trail. Working across media, she also produces packages for WXXI-TV’s weekly news magazine Need to Know.
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