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Arizona doctor treating Afghan refugees from same region she escaped

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Posted at 9:33 AM, Sep 20, 2021

PHOENIX, Ariz. — An Arizona doctor is treating refugees arriving from Afghanistan who are escaping the same region she did as a child.

Dr. Baharak Tabarsi, a family physician with Valleywise Health, said the first patients arrived in her office this week from Afghanistan.

“I remember the airport,” Dr. Tabarsi said as she recalled arriving in the U.S. at the age of 10. “So, when I’m looking at pictures of the Afghani refugees coming, I actually went through old pictures, and I found the picture they took of us when we had arrived at a port of entry at JFK.”

Arizona will receive just over 1,600 Afghan refugees, according to a spokesperson with Governor Doug Ducey’s office.

On Wednesday, Ducey’s office was notified by officials with President Joe Biden’s Administration about the number of refugees arriving. Arizona is expected to receive the fifth largest number of refugees from the first group of 37,000 people arriving.

Dr. Tabarsi said she treated a handful of patients last week, but she is expecting more.

“Some of these patients may have had some trauma, the women and the children may have even experienced some trauma, and it’s not going to be that they’re going to say that to me on the first visit, even though I even speak their English.”

Dr. Tabarsi said she hopes the community will embrace our new neighbors and asks for others to help support refugee resettlement agencies or Valleywise Health Foundation that has a refugee clinic. You can find more information here.

Earlier this month, the CEO for Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest said they are awaiting the first refugees.

Phillips said they’re ready to welcome refugees within a day’s notice.

“We’ve had well probably over 250 calls in the last few days saying, you know, I’d like to help. At this time we are not taking any more volunteer applications. We just are at capacity,” she added.

“We have a very specific, down to the number of forks that we put into an apartment when someone comes as a refugee,” said Phillips.

This story was originally published by Nicole Grigg at KNXV.