Dr. Susan Reines is pediatrician with Kaiser
Permanente at the Panola Medical Center. A few days each week, Dr.
Reines volunteers at Refugee Pediatric Clinic, a clinic in
Clarkston that serves refugee children during their initial days,
weeks, months, and even years in the United States.
Supported by the Health Department and with
volunteers from the Centers for Disease Control and other pediatric
clinics and offices in the area, Dr. Reines sees families that have
come to the US with their children from Asia, the Middle East, and
Georgia is among the top ten US states to
receive refugees for resettlement.
The CDC recommends all refugees have a health
screening within 30 days of arriving in the States. Dr. Reines sees
many of these families. It is in this setting she has partnered
with Reach Out and Read Georgia and implemented the model to
provide families with free books, literacy guidance and information
on school preparedness.
Many families Dr. Reines meets have come here so
their children can have opportunity and chief among those
opportunities is education. However, Dr. Reines points out, "A lot
of families have come from cultures where education hasn't been a
focus. They've grown up in refugee camps. Talking with these
families about the importance of school readiness is important. We
encourage them to look into community resources, the local library
and Head Start."
In the context of the visit, Dr. Reines says
books can be a tool to determine developmental milestones in
situations when the traditional screening isn't as effective
because of language and other cultural barriers.
"Watching the children with a book gives us a
good indication as to whether or not there are developmental
issues. We can observe fine motor skills, pointing to
pictures, and whether they will start to talk with parents about
what they are seeing. In typical clinical work, we can talk to a
family about what their child is doing. In the refugee clinic, we
have to watch the child, because we can't communicate with them as
well. Though we work with interpreters most of the time, we can't
always ask the parents if the child is performing certain tasks.
Observing body language is essential."
Reach Out and Read Georgia provides books for
doctors to distribute at well-visits to children from birth to age
six. Because so many young refugee children come in with siblings,
the clinic has made an effort to raise money to buy books for older
"When we give a child a book, it's really a book
for the whole family. If the family doesn't read in English, we
suggest, through an interpreter, that they look at the pictures and
tell a story in their own language."
"Of all the things a doctor can give," says Dr.
Reinies, "a book is something that the parents really appreciate.
They are unlikely to have the money to go to a bookstore to
purchase new books. And when we are able to provide a book in their
native language, they feel like we really care.
We have been really pleased with the level of
support from Reach Out and Read Georgia. They have gone above and
beyond to secure books for us in different languages. Families feel
respected when we do that."