Caring for New Iowans: An Introduction to Refugee Health and Cultural Considerations

Jill Schacherer joined the Iowa Department of Public Health as the Refugee Health Coordinator in November 2020. In this role, she coordinates with clinics, resettlement agencies, and other community partners around the state to protect and improve the health and well-being of refugees in Iowa. This includes serving as a liaison between the CDC and clinics completing initial refugee health assessments, as well as compiling and analyzing data from the refugee health screenings. Prior to joining the Department of Public Health, Jill spent four years as the Refugee Wellness Program Coordinator at the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants-Des Moines (USCRI) field office. At USCRI, she oversaw the health program and coordinated intensive case management services for refugees with high medical needs. Before working in the refugee field, Jill spent 27 months serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Yarmolyntsi, Ukraine, where she taught English as a Foreign Language and worked on secondary projects focused on HIV/AIDS education, human trafficking prevention, and gender & development issues. Jill is a graduate of Central College and the University of Iowa.

This presentation will provide an introduction to refugee health in Iowa including an overview of the refugee resettlement process, the overseas and domestic medical exams, and refugee populations in Iowa. The presenters will discuss the potential health needs of newly arrived refugees and key cultural considerations for working with refugee communities in Iowa, including newly arrived Afghans from Operation Allies Welcome and Ukrainians arriving through the Uniting for Ukraine program.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Compare the overseas medical examination and the domestic initial refugee health assessment.
  2. Identify potential health needs of newly arrived refugee populations.
  3. Understand key cultural considerations for the refugee communities in Iowa.