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Healthwatch 16: Geisinger doctor helping Afghan refugees

A Luzerne County doctor is helping treat Afghan refugees. Newswatch 16's Elizabeth Worthington shares her experience in this Healthwatch 16 report.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — For the last few weeks, when thousands of Afghan refugees fleeing their home country have arrived at the airport in Philadelphia, Dr. Afghani Roshan is one of the first faces they've seen.

"We say (speaks Pashto) which means, 'Peace and blessings be upon you.' And when they hear that in their own language, they're kind of taken by surprise and look up like, 'Wait, you speak? Who taught you that language?'"

Dr. Roshan is an emergency medicine physician at Geisinger Wyoming Valley near Wilkes-Barre. When she started hearing the stories of Afghan evacuees, it hit close to home. Her own parents and older siblings having fled Afghanistan in the 1980s during the Soviet occupation.

She knew how much the kindness of strangers meant to her family back then, so when she found out a medical triage center was being set up at the airport to treat evacuees, she volunteered to help.

"You can see there's disparities between the health care system here in the U.S. versus in Afghanistan. I don't think there's a central health care system in Afghanistan, so the concept of preventive care or chronic disease management is rare and more difficult. "

Dr. Roshan isn't just providing medical care; she's also helping evacuees deal with emotional trauma.

"They haven't just left physical belongings behind; they've left their entire lives behind."

She says it's when she sees the children running around the airport, happy and smiling, that impacts her the most.

"I want them to feel like they're welcome, they're safe, and know that they have all these opportunities now that they can create a new, and hopefully, safer future for themselves."