Po Too understands the unique needs of the refugees who seek care at Aurora Walker’s Point Community Clinic. She knows them because she was one. She’s a refugee program coordinator and her family lived through the civil war in Myanmar, the country formally known as Burma.
In 1997, they were forced to leave their village and she spent the next nine years in a refugee camp in Thailand. Her family was finally able to resettle to the United States in 2006, and they landed in Lake Geneva, WI. Po was just 14 years old.
“I don’t know anyone who has worked harder than my parents,” Po said. “The toughest part to overcome was the language barrier. It can be very isolating as a refugee.”
Po’s church sponsor helped her overcome that isolation and connect her family to local resources. That’s why she’s so passionate about her work now; she hopes to provide to other refugees the same kindness and care that was given to her.
“We must educate them about their health before conditions worsen. So, I help them schedule annual checkups, make sure they get vaccinations and most importantly, I try to have conversations about topics that might be taboo within various refugee communities.”
Refugees are required by federal law to undergo health screenings within 30 days of entering the United States. The refugee program is managed through Aurora Walker’s Point Community Clinic and Aurora Sinai Medical Center serves as a screening and care site. The screenings include checking for infectious diseases and to assess each refugee’s general health. They then help them utilize the health insurance they are provided through BadgerCare Plus, to connect with a primary care doctor and refer them to specialty care if needed. All these screening services are provided at no cost.
For Po, it’s not just about providing health care, it’s about helping to provide a forever home. “When I meet people who’ve just arrived and don’t have family, I make sure they know they can call me if they need someone to talk to. I want them to be more independent in their new home.”