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Refugee Health Access

  • This is a picture of NSC staff escorting clients to their doctors appointment.
    An NSC Clinic Liaison escorts clients to a medical appointment.
Eager to begin anew, but struggling to navigate a challenging system, refugees need support accessing the U.S. health care system.

Refugees typically come to the U.S. after many years of living in refugee camps, urban slums or rural areas with limited access to health care, food, clean water, and basic hygiene. Many refugees arrive with unmanaged, chronic health conditions, infectious diseases and/or other significant medical conditions or disabilities. Refugees also experience emotional trauma resulting from war, displacement, loss of loved ones and status, and often struggle with depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions. Eager to begin anew, but struggling to navigate a challenging system, refugees need support accessing the U.S. health care system.

NSC’s refugee health access program connects newly arrived refugees with screening and ongoing primary care.  Refugees receiving ongoing support, through Clinic Liaisons, including escort to initial screening appointments, scheduling and escort to needed lab, radiology and specialist visit and referral to additional supports as needed. NSC’s refugee health program serves 400 newly arrived refugees annually providing support for over 2,000 health care appointments.

Additionally, NSC leads the Philadelphia Refugee Health Collaborative.  Formed in September 2010, PRHC is a regional coalition of Philadelphia’s resettlement agencies and refugee health providers. PRHC’s core mission is to create an equitable system of refugee health care in the Philadelphia region that ensures a consistently high standard of care for all refugees. The Collaborative has the capacity to provide domestic health screenings, primary care (including newborn, pediatrics, adult medicine, geriatric, obstetric and gynecologic care) and access to laboratory, radiology and subspecialty services to ~ 850 newly arrived refugees each year. 

NSC has also developed effective systems beyond the screening, providing refugee arrivals with an orientation to the U.S. health system; coordination, scheduling and escorting to follow-up testing and initial specialist appointments; referrals or escorting to eye, dental and WIC (Supplemental nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children) appointments; medical support services for those with significant needs; and day-to-day assistance with medical queries.

For more information about NSC’s Refugee Health Programs, contact Gretchen Shanfeld (gshanfeld@nscphila.org).