Pharmacy on a Mission: Pharmacist Helps Provide Free Medical Care to Refugees

Our pharmacist on staff, Anyssa Garza, Pharm.D., volunteers at Hope Clinic every week. Part of the GetUp Project, Hope Clinic provides free health care and related services to refugees and other underserved populations in Austin. She and the team of volunteers provide care to more than 50 patients per month. Here's her story.

This Spring, I joined the Hope Clinic to support their efforts in helping the underserved populations of Austin and the surrounding areas, especially the thousands of refugees who have resettled in Austin. For these people, basic health care and common medications are hard to come by and services like the Hope Clinic can be life-saving.

The initiative began in 2010 with a handful of medical professionals dedicated to providing free healthcare for resettled refugees of Austin. The team made it their mission to see as many patients as possible, often visiting patients in their homes. The organization grew quickly and by early 2012, Get Up Project was formed to provide the organizational structure for what would become Hope Medical Clinic.  

Many of the people serviced by Hope Medical have left their homeland to start over in a new country, which presents a range of unique challenges. Many patients lack their own form of transportation and do not speak the native language, making access to health care extremely difficult. And without good health, it’s almost impossible to start a new life and better improve conditions for their family.

Each week at the clinic brings its own unique challenges and touching experiences, consistently reminding us that nothing is too big to overcome. On my first day at the clinic, a woman came in who was experiencing back pain and numbness in her arms. She could not communicate her symptoms due to the language barrier. Luckily, after just two months here, her nine-year old daughter had learned enough English to communicate her mother’s symptoms which then allowed the health care providers to diagnose and develop a health care plan.

It’s stories like this that help fulfill the Hope Medical Clinic’s mission – to identify and bridge the gaps that exist for the underserved population. Whether that means bringing in translators to better understand each patient’s symptoms or making “house calls,” I find new energy each week to help further Hope Medical Clinic’s mission and better serve these people’s needs.