Navigating the medical system in the United States can be complicated and confusing. Now, imagine making appointments and dealing with insurance companies if you don't speak the language. Then, throw into the mix the emotional trauma of fleeing your home country and leaving loved ones behind, forever.
This is the reality for many immigrants and refugees trying to make a new life for themselves in the United States.
Harborview Medical Center on Seattle’s First Hill is a lifeline for immigrants and refugees from all over the world. They find their way to the hospital's International Medicine Clinic.
No matter where the clinic’s patients come from, they all have things in common.
“In this clinic, everybody’s been through warfare as a rule. Torture is prevalent. The loss of family or culture or even your individual village or city is a commonly shared theme,” said Dr. Carey Jackson, the clinic’s longtime director.
Despite the multiple horrors these people have been through and the physical scars, Dr. Jackson is constantly amazed and inspired by his patients’ resilience.
“What they often do is they find joy in the cracks and they are survivors. And I think so often when you are constantly thinking that you should have a better life than what you’ve got, which is kind of the American malady, that you lose sight of your joy and what you actually have,” said Dr. Jackson.
In this story we’ll spend time in the International Medicine Clinic where translators, nurses, bilingual social workers, doctors and pharmacists all work together to take care of this vulnerable population.