Congressman Hank Johnson visits Refuge Coffee to talk healthcare

Congressman Hank Johnson came to Clarkston and met with GSU President M. Brian Blake, GSUSPH Dean Rodney Lyn, Dr. Mary Helen O'Connor, Deputy Director of PRCGSU, Clarkston Mayor Beverly H. Burks, Principal Stephanie Brown-Bryant of Indian Creek Elementary, GSU Perimeter students and local refugees to learn about the impact the PRC has had on the community. Photo courtesy of GSU.

This story has been updated. 

Clarkston, GA — Congressman Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) visited with students, community members and leaders at the Prevention Research Center at Georgia State University on Aug. 15 at Refuge Coffee in Clarkston. 

The Prevention Research Center (PRC) is using a $3.7 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote the health and well-being of refugees in Clarkston. PRC is committed to community engagement and education

“Clarkston is a laboratory producing global citizens, and we are all interrelated and interdependent with one another,” Congressman Johnson said. 

PRC is helping increase vaccination rates, implement evidence-based parenting programs and strengthen health communication in many languages. The program is overseen by Dr. Mary Helen O’Connor, director of the Center for Community Engagement at Perimeter College, who has a decade of experience volunteering with refugees. 

Dr. Dawood Azeemy, who earned a medical degree from Kabul Medical University in Afghanistan, is a Fulbright Scholar who is pursuing a Master of Public Health degree at Georgia State. He noted that in addition to directly benefiting the people from around the world who call Clarkston home, the PRC helps disseminate best-practices for supporting vulnerable communities.

“Unfortunately, with conflict and crises going on around the world, we have increasing numbers of immigrants and refugees globally,” Azeemy said. “Refugee and immigrant health is an area of research that needs a lot of attention.”

Nearly 80% of Clarkston residents are at least partially vaccinated, which greatly exceeds the 57% vaccination rate of communities with a similar social vulnerability index.

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