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ICFRC: How Covid-19 has Impacted Refugees and Immigrants in Iowa

Listen to an audio podcast of this program.

Since early 2020, the pandemic has had wide-ranging effects on communities across Iowa. A confluence of factors related to the Covid-19 virus have created particular health and wellness challenges for refugees and immigrants in the state. Early during the pandemic, limited reliable information was available to newer Iowans in languages other than English about how to prevent exposure to and spreading of the virus, creating uncertainties about staying safe and protecting others. Along with the destruction from and chaos due to the derecho storm of summer 2020, individuals and families have been faced with new and compounding hardships: dire employment, financial, and childcare concerns, requirements to restrict contact with family, friends, and others in their communities, as well as increasing and often unaddressed mental health stressors related to and separate from the ongoing pandemic.

Erin Hayward, MD is a clinical assistant professor of Family Medicine at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the medical director of the International Family Medicine Clinic. Prior to obtaining a medical degree at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and completion of her Family Medicine residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Dr. Hayward completed an undergraduate degree in International Studies at Kenyon College. She has been employed by Lutheran World Relief and was involved at the inception of Tiyatien Health (now known as Last Mile Health). She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, West Africa. Dr. Hayward practices outpatient family medicine at the Scott Boulevard Clinic of UICOM and is a rotating faculty member on the family medicine inpatient service at UIHC. She currently serves on the board of the Congolese Health Partnership of Johnson County.

Adrián Silva is the lead medical interpreter at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and Stead Family Children's Hospital. He has been interpreting for Spanish-speaking patients and families for the last 11 years and as such, has been in thousands of medical encounters spanning all aspects of patient care. An immigrant himself, his family moved to the United States from Mexico when he was 8 years old, Adrián can relate closely to the struggles many of his patients deal with as Limited-English and non-English speakers. He comes to us today with a unique perspective as one of the only staff in a healthcare team that truly gets to see a patient's full scope of care from beginning to end.

Lata D'Mello (she/her) is a Director of Programs at Monsoon Asians & Pacific Islanders in Solidarity, an organization serving victims/survivors of gender-based violence in Iowa. She is based in Iowa City and oversees victim services in the Eastern, Northeastern and Southern parts of the state; trains and supervises advocates; edits Monsoon's communication materials; and conducts outreach and education. Lata was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She has had about 22 years of experience as a journalist in newspapers in India, Singapore and the United States. Her interests are social and economic justice, gender studies, community health, and arts and culture.

Alyssa Clayden is a mental health therapist, community educator and doctoral level researcher who specifically focuses on decreasing mental health inequities in refugee and immigrant communities. Alyssa has more than two decades of professional experience living on five continents supporting innovative curriculum and best practice interventions for displaced individuals, families and communities. She runs her own community agency and supports refugee and immigrant mental health locally, nationally and internationally through telehealth services.

For more information on the Foreign Relations Council visit their website at www.icfrc.org.

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