Helping the Arab American community connect with health benefits and social services

By Amanda Bazzi

I am a second-year graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. My academic concentration is in both Epidemiology and Nutrition within the Population and Health Sciences Department. I was introduced to the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship through my university and am grateful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of this cohort. The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has allowed me to develop a deeper understanding of the disparities that exist within my own Arab American community.

My project educates Arab Americans in Dearborn on the benefits of their insurance policies, whether they be Medicaid, Medicare, or Obamacare. The intended outcome of this project is to improve health and wellness within my population, improve self-efficiency, self-awareness, and self-management.

My target audience was identified through demographic factors including race, income, ethnicity, and gender. They include both insured and underinsured low-income Dearborn residents requiring access to healthcare. These people are highly stressed by the pressures of life. Through my work, I hope to address access to health care and social services. The lack of reliable health care in some instances might negatively impact one’s health, especially since many are reluctant and choose to forego necessary medical care due to the cost associated with it. Several may also be unaware of the alternative services that their insurance policies may cover. For example, instead of going to the emergency room for an injury, they can find urgent care close to their home to go to instead.

I was lucky to have teamed up with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS). ACCESS is an amazing organization that goes above and beyond for every client they encounter. Whether it is providing a client with a blood pressure machine or just an ear to talk to, ACCESS goes above and beyond. I have a caseload of 50 clients and typically meet with them once a month over the phone and discuss any concerns they have with their current health status. I follow up with any new medications they may be taking or any doctor’s appointments they may have attended. I emphasize my ability to coordinate referrals with my clients and provide them any resources that ACCESS can offer them. Over the first several months of my fellowship, I worked to put together an insurance policy brochure that details the concept of health insurance and the benefits that come with each insurance type. I am currently working on getting ready to distribute the brochures and could not be more excited. It will truly benefit my clients to have a document that details the services that come with their insurance policy. This document will allow my project to be sustainable after it is over and have the potential to reach many other clients.

y fellowship has turned into several great opportunities for both my clients and me. I am excited to see how the remaining months of my Fellowship go.

The United Nations has established August 19 as World Humanitarian Day. Schweitzer Fellows are marking the commemoration with a series of blog posts this week.