Refugee Health Success Stories

Refugees arrive in the U.S. with unique health needs that reflect life in their home countries and life as refugees.  Refugee health and well-being are fundamental to successful resettlement and integration.

How does your community help refugees successfully establish healthy beginnings in the U.S.?  How does your community or clinic utilize innovative ways to connect and orient refugees to the U.S. health care system? Leave your comments below.

2 thoughts on “Refugee Health Success Stories

  1. Jeanne Nizigiyimana, MA, MSW

    I am a program manager at a clinic that serves refugee women and provides them with reproductive health care. These are some stories from four of our patients.

    “I heard from people in my community about a clinic that serves refugee women. As I was feeling sick from my pregnancy, I sought care at this clinic, and they quickly helped me although I didn’t have insurance. They helped me to apply for my insurance coverage, they helped me with transportation, and when I delivered the baby, they helped me with car seat and diapers. This clinic is very good to me. They continue to provide taxi for my baby’s appointments. I never got that kind of care where I was before. This is really a very good experience, I can’t believe it. God bless all the doctors and everybody who works at this clinic.”

    “I first arrived in the U.S. in 2009. I landed in the United States not only to face the struggles of adapting to a new culture, but also facing my very first pregnancy. This child was born in another hospital under minimal care. When I got pregnant with my second child, I discovered a clinic that serves refugee women and sought out its services both for prenatal care and delivery. I witnessed the incredible difference that the specialized care of this clinic made. With the assistance of a Cultural Health Navigator and interpreter from my own country I could communicate with my providers and felt that my medical services went far more smoothly. The clinic makes me feel at home. I am very, very happy to have been introduced to this clinic by my case manager.”

    “I have been with a clinic that serves refugee women for about one year and then I got pregnant. I like their treatment for me. They took care of me, especially since I had gestational diabetes. They gave me classes and they sent me transportation every time. They helped me. They gave me stuff for the baby. They gave me a car seat and diapers whenever I asked for them. I thank them because they took care of me in a good way. I would like to thank the program manager, doctor, and interpreter.”

    “I came to the U.S. two years ago. I waited for more than 1 year to get pregnant. But when I learned about a clinic for refugee women from the program manager, I went there and find everybody caring. They treated me well, respected my culture and my language. Now I am pregnant and I am very happy with my doctor. I want all my pregnancies to be cared for by this clinic’s doctor. Thank you.”

    June 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm
  2. Marc Altshuler, MD and Juliane Ramic

    A refugee had severe rheumatic heart disease that would require a medical escort during travel to the United States and immediate medical evaluation upon arrival. Due in large part to a unique partnership between the resettlement agency and health care provider, all refugees resettled in our city have immediate access to medical providers upon arrival to the United States.

    Doctor’s appointments were arranged beforehand, and upon arriving at the airport, the family was greeted by the resettlement agency’s case manager and a medical resident. The refugee was quickly assessed to determine stability of his/her medical condition.

    Within a week of arriving, the refugee was evaluated by a primary care team and cardiologists. When the patient walked into the clinic office, his/her father walked up to the supervising doctor, and without having any knowledge of what the medical team could do for his child, he said, “The health of my family is in your hands.”

    Soon thereafter, the refugee underwent the first of two life-saving surgeries. These surgeries were a huge success and the refugee has grown much stronger. The refugee had amazing support from family during every doctor visit and hospital stay. The refugee recovered beautifully and can now walk everywhere, including to medical appointments.

    The refugee’s parents thanked the resettlement agency and medical team for saving their child’s life. Since then, three other refugees with rheumatic heart disease have arrived in our city and all received their medical care at our clinic. The refugee featured in this story is now a role model for these newly arrived refugees, guiding them through the adjustment to not only the medical system, but to living a healthy life in the United States.

    June 11, 2012 at 3:40 pm