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Researcher Mentors Refugee Patient

January 06, 2020

As a research associate in the Center for Health Systems Research at Denver Health, Melanie Stowell is working to improve health care for our most vulnerable patients. Many of them have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, poverty and homelessness, which can lead to more barriers in getting the care they need. In addition to helping survivors at work, Stowell is also helping Rachel, who fled West Africa at the age of 17 after the death of her parents and abuse at the hands of a step-family member. Arriving in Colorado alone, Rachel, also a Denver Health patient, needed help adjusting to life in the United States. Stowell came to her aid through Lutheran Family Services’ refugee volunteer program. The non-profit organization paired the two, who both speak French. They meet every couple of weeks, watch movies, go to parks and do other fun activities. But their time together isn’t all fun and games. In the last couple years, Stowell has helped Rachel find a part-time job and secure funds for her education.

Thanks to the support, Rachel graduated from high school and is now a full time student at the Community College of Denver, interested in pursuing nursing. And Stowell feels she’s gotten just as much out of their time as Rachel has. “I’ve learned a great deal too. Rachel is the embodiment of resilience, strength and compassion – it’s amazing to see, given what she’s been through. We all have a lot to learn from people like Rachel, and I’m excited to see the impacts she’ll continue to make on the world.”

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