Hmong Health Care

By: Paige Lambrecht
By: Paige Lambrecht

More than 100 people packed into the Plaza Hotel in Wausau Tuesday to learn all about traditional Hmong views of health care. The workshop is sponsored by the Northern Wisconsin Area Health Education Center and it's an effort to provide better care to the large number of Hmong people in the area.

It couldn't come at a better time as Marathon County prepares to welcome 450 new Hmong refugees by the end of the summer. Many of those new refugees will hold on to their traditional medical beliefs. Many Hmong believe in rituals and worshipping ancestors, and some practice shamanism, which looks to the spirit world for diagnosis and healing.

The workshop taught health care providers about these traditional Hmong practices. For example, it's typical to wrap a girdle around a Hmong woman after she's given birth. Many of those at the workshop said they had received requests for a girdle, and they hadn't known why.

Suzanne Matthew, the executive director of Northern WI AHEC says, "Now these health providers will understand this better, so when their patient asks for it, it won't seem so strange to them."

Members of the Hmong community and health care workers say compromise will be vital to giving the Hmong here in Wisconsin proper care. That means incorporating traditional beliefs with modern medicine.

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