Ft. Wayne: health program for Burmese refugees to end

This is the beginning of the straight news story about the end of the Advantage program for Ft. Wayne, Indiana refugees:

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – A state funded program that assists Burmese refugees coordinate health care needs will end this summer.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s 18-month contract with Advantage Health Solutions ends on July 1. The Indiana-based group helps arrange health care providers, translation and transportation services for Burmese refugees.

The program, which cost more than $100,000 a year, was designed to be a temporary transition and education tool according to the FSSA. Spokesman Marcus Barlow said the service should have helped community members learn how the American health system works allowing them would then be able to spread that knowledge to others.

It’s not responsible to keep [the program] going indefinitely. It was just intended for a certain amount of time to get people used to the services, people [to know] services exist,” Barlow said.

O.K. that didn’t sound too horrible, the program was to teach refugees how to find health care, but this Twitter Journalism report sounds a lot more ominous.

Indiana will cut funding to health services caring for Fort Wayne’s Burmese population. Illnesses such as tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis, with greater percentages in the Burmese community than Fort Wayne at-large, will go untreated due to the funding cuts to social services. Without proper treatment there is a worry that these illnesses will flourish in the Burmese community and then to the rest of Fort Wayne’s population as well as overloading emergency rooms.

“Fort Wayne’s Burmese population is a ‘reservoir of HIV, resistant tuberculosis, hepatitis B and hepatitis C,’ ” Lutheran Health Network CEO Michael Schatzlein wrote to a colleague in February, quoting his infectious disease specialist, Dr. Suzanne Smith-Elekes.

Some fear that by not having the foresight to treat these illnesses early on, they could spread. By cutting services and programs that deal with preventative medicine and educating the refugees to receive proper treatment may be more costly in the long run.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry told Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) officials that “ending the Advantage program without an effective follow-up strategy will put public health at risk, lead to a less-healthy refugee population, overburden the local health care system and … , cost the state more than it is currently spending on refugee health care.” Fort Wayne now has over 5,000 refugees and has worked with catholic charities, St. Joseph Community Health Center and other organizations to have established a Community Resource Center to assist them.

Then we have this comment by Deb McMahan, the Health Commissioner for Allen County.  Funny thing is that we heard from her here in 2007 and it seems like not much has changed.  Ft. Wayne could have said NO (for awhile) to more refugees but didn’t, so no sympathy here.

“We invited them here. We should be able to assist them.” said Allen County Health Commissioner Deb McMahan.

Not to worry, Obamacare has passed and all this will be taken care of out of Obama’s stash!

Spread the love

Leave a Reply