SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Marshallese community is getting hit hard with the current health crisis.
If we really are going to take care of all Arkansans as we say we are, that includes the Marshallese community as well.DR. SHELDON RIKLON, UAMS NW CAMPUS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
Within the last week, 10 people in Benton and Washington County have died from the coronavirus — seven of them were Marshallese.
There’s a lot of fear and anxiety and angst among community members.DR. SHELDON RIKLON, UAMS NW CAMPUS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR
University of Arkansas Medical Sciences Associate Professor Dr. Sheldon Riklon is apart of the Marshallese community.
He said he knows all too well the devastation that’s happening.
“We’re all family members,” Dr. Riklon said. “It’s like a village.”
Dr. Riklon said this virus is uncharted territory for everyone, but when it comes to the Marshallese community it’s even more unclear — especially when people aren’t following the recommended precautions.
“Even when I go out there and go to the stores, there are many people out there that aren’t practicing as well as [they] should be,” he said.
That’s not the only struggle the community is facing.
“They come with chronic conditions, most of them because they cannot access healthcare,” Dr. Riklon said.
An act passed in the mid-’90s disqualified Marshallese migrants from receiving medical assistance, which leaves many Pacific Islanders uninsured during this health crisis.
Governor Asa Hutchinson addressed this issue in Tuesday’s press conference.
“We want to make sure that population that needs healthcare and needs treatment, have access to it,” he said.
Even with that, Dr. Riklon said it’s important to do what’s expected of you.
“Stay home if you don’t have to go out, practice good hand washing daily, wear a mask if you go into the community,” he said.