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Vargas Elected to National Refugee Health Board

January 27, 2014

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) congratulates Monica Vargas, state refugee health coordinator at the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), on her election to the 2014 executive leadership board of the Association of Refugee Health Coordinators (AHRC).
 

Monica Vargas, state health refugee coordinator

AHRC is a national organization dedicated to strengthening state and local refugee health leadership, expertise and advocacy to achieve wellness in domestic refugee populations. As a board member, Vargas will help advance the organization’s mission and establish its priorities, as well as communicate with federal officials about important issues facing refugees in the U.S., including policy guidance, medical screening and surveillance, mental health and health education and communication.

“I am excited about being nominated and elected by my peers to the Executive Board,” Vargas said. “Refugee health has evolved a lot since I started doing this 13 years ago. With the changes in health care, it is with great hope that we, as a board, help to promote the big picture of refugee health on not only a state level, but national level as well.”

DPH cares for the health needs of Georgia’s diverse population of refugees, who settle in counties across the state. In 2012 alone, more than 3,000 refugees from about 50 countries arrived in Georgia. DPH’s Refugee Health Program works to promote the physical, mental and social well-being of newly arriving refugees, working with county health departments to screen them for communicable and chronic diseases and to administer immunizations. The program also provides medical interpretation and translation services, along with outreach and case management.

Patrick O’Neal, M.D., DPH’s director of health protection, said its a tremendous honor and opportunity for Vargas and others to represent Georgia’s public health work to peers around the U.S. in national organizations. He also noted that she is the sixth director in the division to be asked to sit on a national board of their respective organizations.

“I am exceedingly proud of Monica and all health protection directors for representing the department so admirably,” O’Neal said. “This is part of moving DPH from good to great.”