1.7 min readPublished On: June 1, 2017

The Exchange House, created by the Better Block Foundation, serves as a community center for the large refugee population, predominantly Bhutanese, which travels mostly on foot and has a large number of children and senior citizens.

North Hill’s Exchange House opened its doors to the Akron community on Tuesday. With a community center for refugees downstairs and an international hostel upstairs, the once-deteriorating three-bedroom house is already generating bookings on Airbnb, which lists it as “Little Bhutan in Akron.”

“We are trying our hardest to get a facility open in their area,” said AxessPointe spokeswoman Stephanie Berry in an email. “For the meantime, our best option was the partnership with the Exchange House.”

Under the federal refugee resettlement program, refugees get short-term health insurance for up to eight months. Some refugees are also eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program for several years.

Beginning June 6, AxessPointe’s clinic will be open every Tuesday from 1-5 p.m. at the Exchange House at 760 Elma St. offering:

  • • immunizations, blood testing and basic health screenings
  • • access to primary care providers at AxessPointe’s full-service centers
  • • services for those with no health insurance
  • • Nepali-speaking community health workers to interpret and provide case management and home health services

The clinic also plans to host workshops at the Exchange House to educate refugee patients on nutrition and preventive care for diabetes, hypertension, oral health, heart disease and other health issues.

“We have been doing our best to learn what the refugees’ barriers to healthcare are and how we can address those barriers, along with listening to what their needs are and what services they would like to see provided,” Berry said.

AxessPointe also offers behavioral health, case management, dental care, insurance enrollment, pharmacy, prenatal education and support, and specialty medical care.

A North Hill Community Meeting to discuss the new clinic is scheduled for May 31 from 10-11 a.m. at the Exchange House. Residents are encouraged to attend.

By: Jennifer Conn, Akron Reporter, Cleveland.com