International House hires medical liaison

International House, a local Christian ministry providing services to refugees and immigrants, recently hired their first Medical and Social Services Liaison. Valisha Reber recently filled the position, which is partially funded by a grant from the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation.

“My role is to help people navigate their medical and social service appointments,” says Reber. “I serve as a helper or guide for whatever they need, whether it’s transportation or remembering what questions to ask, or even helping them know how to check in for an appointment.”

Recently, Reber was able to help explain how to use an inhaler to a refugee she accompanied to a medical appointment. She frequently helps fill in gaps in communication between a refugee, an interpreter and a health care provider.

“I think having the continuity of someone who knows the case is important,” says Reber. “I had been with the same woman at two different appointments with two different doctors. Even with the interpreter, the doctor was having a hard time piecing the story together of what happened at the first appointment. I was able to relay that information to the doctor so they could have the full picture.”

International House provides more than accompaniment to medical and social service appointments. Staff work with hundreds of volunteers to assist with citizenship classes, in-home tutoring, homework help, a women’s club, summer day camp for kids and more.

“We are really about just being genuine friends, because that’s what we’re here for, to build a genuine, long-lasting relationship with international families,” says Ann Heign, executive director of International House.

International House works to create a bridge for those in the Christian community who want to reach out to international families. The ministry connects churches and volunteers with programs they offer, such as summer day camp and tutoring. Often, the church volunteers stay connected and develop meaningful relationships with immigrants and refugees.

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