There's a new effort on P.E.I. to make sure the Syrian refugees who have arrived are getting the medical help they need, at a special clinic.

Since December, 139 Syrian refugees have started new lives on the Island.

But after their initial needs were taken care of, officials realized many had health issues that needed to be addressed.

"You can imagine if someone has been without care for three or four years, and they've gone through the turmoil they've gone through," said Lisa Shaffer, Health PEI's Primary Care Network Manager for Queens West.

"So we thought one of the things we could do in primary care, is to set up a clinic to meet some of those immediate needs."


All refugee families will be able to come to the new clinic three times. (CBC)

So over the past two weeks the new Islanders have been able to come to the Sherwood Medical Centre.

For three days a week, it's now the site of a refugee health clinic.

Health PEI also put out the call to Island physicians and nurse practitioners, and more than twenty have stepped up to put in some time at the clinic, away from their regular practices.

Each half-day clinic is devoted to check-ups for one Syrian family.

Interpreters are on site to help, and Shaffer says it's all about making the process as efficient as possible.

"It's difficult in a walk-in situation for example, to have the time to focus on the whole family, and to go through the process with the interpreter," she explained. "So we figured this way, we could help alleviate some of that by setting aside a separate clinic."

So far, Health PEI says six families have been through the clinic at least once, a total of 30 people.


Lisa Shaffer from Health PEI says the clinic will help with everything from nutritional issues to prenatal care. (CBC)

The hope is to have each of them come back for two follow-up appointments.

The refugee health clinics are about addressing any immediate health care needs — finding out whether they have nutritional deficiencies, or need medication, for example.

After those clinic visits, the special treatment is finished.

"Once the three visits are over, these people are on the patient registry, and they'll wait the same as any Islander for a physician to take them on," said Shaffer.

If they need to meet with a specialist, they will have to join that line as well.