Department for Public Health

WKU Dept. of Public Health/Imagewest

Western Kentucky University is hosting its first Refugee Health Summit on Thursday, April 18. Assistant Professor in WKU’s Department of Public Health Michelle Reece is coordinator of the summit. Reece came to the WKU Public Radio studio and spoke with reporter Rhonda Miller about this new project. 

Reece: My colleague and I, Dr. William Mkanta, we have some connection with the International Center of Kentucky here in Bowling Green. And over the course of the years we discovered that there are some issues that providers are facing as they’re interacting with our new residents, who are former refugees. And so we, through the Research and Creativities Program here at WKU, applied for a grant to look at “Provider Needs Assessment in Refugee Health Services.”  This summit is partly a response to the findings from our study, the ethical thing that we need to do and go back to the community and provide the results and how we’re going to address some of the issues that came up in refugee health services.


Emil Moffatt

At first glance, they look like RVs. But a closer look at the two giant trucks reveals the words “Mobile Health Unit” emblazoned on the side.

“The units that we have are basically a clinic-on-wheels. Each mobile unit we have two ‘clinic’ rooms that are just basically like a doctor’s office that you’d go to in a stationary clinic,” said Matthew Hunt, director of WKU’s Institute for Rural Health.  “Regardless of location, we can see the patient and that’s a nice thing. We reduce barriers of transportation and take the services directly to the patient.”

The program recently received a $50,000 gift from the Good Samaritan Foundation to be used for supplies and an $8,000 grant from the Kentucky Department of Public Health to continue a program that brings free dental care to hundreds of school children in Allen County.

“It’s very expensive to offer these services to the community.  These funding sources will help us purchase much-needed medical supplies such as gloves, flu vaccines and new portable equipment,” said Hunt.