Survivor Clinic aids victims of torture
Number of cases certain to rise as more refugees emigrate to Louisville and the surrounding region
Dr. Rajeev Bais (above) of the Division of Infectious Diseases, along with Dr. Steven Lippmann of the Dept. of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences are the driving forces behind The Survivor Clinic.
In the minds of many, torture is something that happens to other people in faraway lands. Unfortunately, it is something that hits very close to home for many residents of the metro Louisville area.
Surveys taken in primary care and emergency room waiting rooms show that up to approximately 35 percent of foreign-born refugees who are patients are torture survivors. As the refugee population of the Louisville area increases, it is likely the number of torture survivors will follow suit.
Now, those who are victims of the unthinkable have a place to go that understands their specific ordeal, thanks to a collaborative effort between the University of Louisville Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
Formed in 2010, The Survivor Clinic works to provide comprehensive medical and psychological care to survivors of torture. Utilizing the various resources of both departments, as well as assistance from the U of L Departments of Surgery and Obstetrics and Gynecology, the clinic provides primary care in a quiet, calm and culturally appropriate setting.
Before the opening of the Louisville clinic, the closest center specializing in treatment of torture victims was in Chicago.
In addition to medical care, the clinic staff works with community organizations to help patients with language classes, job training and community integration.
Also, the clinic helps educate (in a culturally sensitive manner) medical students and residents on health issues related to torture, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety and depression.
"Dr. Bais, Dr. Lippmann and their colleagues have established a wonderful service for the community," Dr. Jesse Roman, Chairman of the University of Louisville Department of Medicine said. "This type of program should be emphasized by academic medical centers as an example of their many contributions to world health."
To date, the clinic has treated patients from Somalia, Sudan, Congo, Gabon, Uzbekistan, Iraq and Myanmar.