Metro Morning

Clinic ramps up refugee care in advance of Liberal promise to bring Syrians to Canada

A challenge for refugees coming to the country will be getting access to health care. A Toronto doctor is already looking to help meet that challenge.

Crossroads clinic expects to see post-traumatic stress, infectious disease in refugees

Among the campaign promises of Justin Trudeau's Liberal government was to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by the end of the year.

But even before that happens, a challenge for refugees coming to the country will be getting access to health care.

A Toronto doctor is already looking to help meet that challenge. Dr. Meb Rashid, medical director of the Crossroads Clinic at the Women's College Hospital, has begun operating rotating clinics in locations across Toronto dedicated to serving newly-arrived Syrian refugees.

The first one was held Oct. 26.

"Crossroads sees newly arrived refugees from around the world, but this influx presents a problem, just with the sheer volume," said Rashid.

The doctor said there has been similar influxes in refugees in Toronto's history. He pointed to a most recent example of 2007, when the Burmese refugee population went from 800 to 4,000.

Refugees often have ailments in numbers the general population doesn't, said Rashid, such as post-traumatic stress from war-related trauma and infectious diseases. But as with much related to their arrival, there is uncertainty.

"We're told very little before they arrive," said Rashid. 

Currently, Rashid said Syrians are trickling into his clinic, and the biggest issue he sees surrounds family separation.

"I've seen two men whose families are in dangerous areas of Syria dealing with anxiety and mental health issues. They're both young, healthy men who left a couple of years back but still deal with it," he explained.

The clinic is opening now to "ramp up" for the promised arrival of refugees. To book an appointment, see the clinic's website.

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