No Longer Alone

Your gift helps make it possible for immigrant women to receive essential medical services at BC Women’s. When Julie Vargas Gracia first moved to Canada, she was pregnant, alone and scared.

“I felt depressed,” says the Spanish-speaking Vargas Gracia through an interpreter. “I was worried about the pain in my abdomen, but I didn’t know anyone here. I had no idea where to get help.”

A neighbour told her about BC Women’s Hospital, which thanks to your support, now operates two one-of-a-kind clinics designed to help immigrant women access healthcare – The Newcomer Women’s Health Clinic and New Beginnings Maternity Clinic. It was here she quickly received the help she needed.

“We know that access to healthcare is vital to helping immigrant women and their families really get settled and integrate into the community,” says Dr. Stephanie Fisher, Medical Director of Reproductive Medicine at BC Women’s.

The Newcomer Women’s Health Clinic was initially launched to reach Asian women, because research showed that their rates of cervical cancer were double those of the general Canadian population. By providing these women with access to pap smears and other testing, the program could dramatically reduce their cancer rates.

The New Beginnings Maternity Clinic was created to provide comprehensive maternity and primary care for pregnant immigrant women – from conception through delivery and postpartum – who would otherwise not have access to maternal/child care.

“Women who are new to Canada have nowhere to get basic healthcare, screening, contraception or STI testing,” says Fisher.

Now, newcomer women have access to culturally sensitive clinics where they can receive prenatal and postpartum care, pap smears, mammograms and education on navigating the medical system, all with the support of counsellors and translators.

For Vargas Gracia, the services of the BC Women’s New Beginnings Maternity Clinic have made a big difference. Today, thanks to you, the new mom and her infant son get regular checkups at the clinic, and are a healthy and thriving family.

“I am very happy that [my son] was born here, because there is so much expertise,” says Vargas Gracia. “They really took care of me.”

Written by Melissa Edwards and featured in Women's Spring 2015 magazine

Julie and her beautiful baby boy, Wilson Samuel photographed by Claudette Carracedo