Canadian Forces Health Services helped Syrian refugees with their journey to Canada
Helping Syrian refugees journey to Canada provided the Defence Team and its medical personnel with a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate its role in assisiting international aid efforts.
In total, 98 Canadian Forces Health Services (CF H Svs) members deployed on Op PROVISION, coming from 18 units across the country, and representing 11 military occupations. The teams included physicians, a physician assistant, nurses, a pharmacist, medical technicians, a medical assistant, medical laboratory technologists, medical radiation technologists, health care administrators, preventive medicine technician, and biomedical electronics technologist.
“Op PROVISION highlighted the outstanding contribution of the Canadian Armed Forces to the whole of government mission to enable Syrian refugees from Jordan and Lebanon to come to Canada,” said Brigadier-General H.C MacKay, Surgeon General of CF H Svs Group.
Sixty-seven of these CF H Svs personnel were stationed in Beirut, Lebanon, and worked tirelessly to turn an empty outpatient clinic within the Rafik Hariri University Hospital into a bustling and efficient medical clinic. The goal of this clinic was to supplement the immigration medical examinations done at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) clinic located in downtown Beirut.
Another group of 31 medical personnel operated out of Amman, Jordan, augmenting the IOM clinic located within the Special Operations Forces Exhibition facility near the airport.
The process began with each refugee family going to one of the medical screening centres, where Health Services members would verify their identification and register them into eMedical, an online immigration health processing system developed by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
Once the clients were registered they were led through a medical screening process that consisted of a radiologic examination, used to rule out tuberculosis. Afterwards blood and urine laboratory examinations, as well as a full history and physical examination were conducted by the physician.
HSS personnel at the clinics set a target to complete at least 150 to 200 immigration medical examinations per day. The CAF-led clinics in Beirut and Amman surpassed all expectations. The team in Amman had their own X-ray, which proved to be a very valuable asset in helping the medical screening team reach their target.
“The med techs here have shown versatility and flexibility as the majority of them were employed as clerks, working with a completely new web-based information system,” said Major Jacques Ricard, 4 Health Services Group, who recently returned from Op PROVISION. “They learned very quickly and even proposed many changes to the process that were endorsed by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada because of their effectiveness.”
Along with the eMedical tool, the Beirut clinics took the initiative to use a remote picture archiving and communication system, and a teleradiology capability to upload, view and report on the X-ray images.
Op PROVISION showed the exceptional skill and commitment demonstrated by the Defence Team and is immeasurable to Canada’s newest residents.
“Canadian Forces Health Services Group personnel responded on very short notice to provide a key capability, assisting the International Organization for Migration with the medical screening of refugees. My thanks and sincere appreciation to our CF H Svcs Gp personnel for their exceptional skill, compassion and commitment to support Canada’s newest residents embarking on their journey to a safer, better life,” said BGen MacKay.
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