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caption: The founders of the Nashi Immigrants Health Board.
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The founders of the Nashi Immigrants Health Board.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Tamara Cyhan-Cunitz.

Seattle Ukrainians help refugees find health care they can trust

As the war in Ukraine continues, refugees in the Seattle area are settling in and looking for health services.

A local Ukrainian nonprofit is stepping up to help them navigate the complex U.S. health care system.

The Nashi Immigrants Health Board is teaming up with federal, state and local health agencies to host an event Saturday in Redmond's Idylwood Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees can find a mobile Covid vaccine center and health-care navigators who speak Ukrainian and Russian to provide information about local services. There will also be activities like yoga, volleyball, and a spot to sip some tea.

Tamara Cyhan-Cunitz, one of the founders of the Nashi Immigrants Health Board, explained that "Nashi" means "our community" in Ukrainian and Russian.

Cyhan-Cunitz said many local Ukrainians and refugees don't trust health-care institutions.

She said at first they didn't have a lot of data about what kind of issues the community had regarding health care. But she said people in the community were willing to talk to her, a Ukrainian-American.

"Those anecdotal stories and information are so important, because we know they are true. We know they are true for 'Nashi,'" Cyhan-Cunitz said. "People are telling us because they trust us."

The health board is now collecting formal information about what the growing community of Ukrainian refugees needs when it comes to their physical and mental health.

Ekaterina Teterina, a consultant with the Nashi Immigrants Health Board, said she hopes that, if refugees are connected to government health resources through "Nashi," they will trust them.

"It's very important to bridge that gap and build that community trust between our governmental agencies and our communities," Teterina said. "By being a face of the community, being there to provide those translational services, and being there to help guide them through that communication process, it will hopefully help them feel differently. Maybe we can get them to say, 'We can trust them.'"

This event is open to everyone — not just Ukrainians.

You can find more information about the event and the health board at nashisupport.com.