The BMC Immigrant & Refugee Health Center (IRHC) works with providers across BMC to connect our patients with primary care, mental health care, medical specialty care, and social services, all tailored to the needs of immigrant and refugee patients. While we can help our patients connect with any services available across BMC, the following departments and programs are affiliated with our Center:
- Primary Care: General Internal Medicine Immigrant & Refugee Health Program (IRHP)
- Refugee Health Assessment Program
- Mental Health: Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights (BCRHHR)
- Obstetrics & Gynecology: Women’s Refugee Health Program (WRHP)
- Social Services, including immigration legal navigation, career development, and more
If you are interested in becoming a patient of the BMC Immigrant & Refugee Health Center, please visit our Referrals page.
Because we recognize that navigating the healthcare system can be challenging, we use a patient-centered approach to help orient our patients to the healthcare system and access care. We also know that accessing resources such as food and housing is important to our patients’ health. At the BMC Immigrant & Refugee Health Center, our team of Case Managers and Patient Navigators will partner with you to connect you with all of the health and social services that you need to stay healthy.
The Immigrant & Refugee Health Program (IRHP) in the department of General Internal Medicine provides comprehensive primary care services to immigrant and refugee health patients through the practice at the Shapiro Center at Boston Medical Center. Our team of clinicians takes care of general healthcare needs through regular check-ups, immunizations and screenings, as well as providing care for illnesses and injuries. The IRHP is also able to coordinate patient care if a patient needs to see a specialist for a more serious health issue. The practice provides on-site interpreters and over the phone interpreters for more than 250 languages. We also offer access to psychiatric and case management support to provide care for the wide range of needs of our patients.
Up to 75,000 refugees arrive each year in the United States, and about 5% of them have settled in Massachusetts in recent years. All refugees are entitled to a health assessment within three months of arrival in the U.S.
The goals of the refugee health assessment are:
- General health assessment, including vision, hearing, and dental screening
- Identification and treatment of immediate health needs
- Diagnosis and treatment of communicable diseases
- Orientation to the health system in the United States
- Transition to a primary care provider
Once this initial assessment has been done, we are happy to continue to follow patients in our primary care practice or to refer them to centers closer to their homes.
The Refugee Health Assessment Program sees patients that are referred from specific resettlement agencies; thus we do not make appointments for these patients outside this system. New immigrants to the U.S. should have their appointments made with primary care professionals with whom they plan to establish long-term care.
For referrals to RHAP, please fax a referral to the RHAP coordinator at 617.414.7230.
Through an innovative model of outpatient care, Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights (BCRHHR) provides comprehensive mental health services – including counseling and medication management – designed to meet the special needs of refugees and survivors of torture, asylum seekers and immigrants. Additionally, the BCRHHR’s case management and patient navigation teams support clients in connecting with other BMC health specialties including primary care and obstetric/gynecological care, as well as with social services both at our hospital and in the greater Boston community. The BCRHHR also provides limited in-house career development services for their clients – for more information, please visit the Career Development page. They are also able to provide forensic psychological assessments for patients who are involved in the asylum process. The BCRHHR provides services to approximately 500 individuals from over 40 countries. Interpreter services are available for more than 250 languages to aid in the healing journey of each patient and their families.
In an effort to serve survivors of torture and related trauma, the BCRHHR firmly recognizes the importance of providing care to the whole person and reaches out to refugee communities and torture survivors to offer a place of safety and trust.
The BCRHHR also educates and trains agencies and professionals who serve this patient population and advocate for the promotion of health and human rights in the United States and worldwide.
The BCRHHR is a member of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs (NCTTP) as well as the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims based in Denmark.
For more information about the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights (BCRHHR), please visit their website.
The Refugee Women’s Health Clinic (RWHC) is a program of the BMC Immigrant Health Center. The RWHC provides comprehensive and culturally sensitive women's health services to refugee, asylum seeking, and recent immigrant communities in the Greater Boston area. Their services include pregnancy and postpartum care, annual check-ups, gynecologic care, contraception counseling, medical affidavit writing for patients seeking asylum, surgical consultation and consultations regarding Female Genital Circumcision. RWHC providers speak Spanish, French and Haitian Creole, and work closely with BMC Interpreter Services to provide care in over 250 languages.
Boston Medical Center has long been a leader in recognizing that for our patients to be truly healthy, we cannot focus solely on their physical and mental wellbeing alone. We know that holistic health also requires us to address our patients’ access to social support, such as food and housing insecurity, legal needs or employment. The BMC Immigrant & Refugee Health Center is able to connect our patients with a range of social support resources both at our hospital and in the greater Boston community in order to meet the unique social needs of immigrant and refugee patients.
Immigration Legal Navigation
The Citizenship and Immigration Rights Navigator (CAIRN) is an immigration legal navigation resource available to all patients at Boston Medical Center. Our CAIRN personnel is able to connect patients to low cost legal services in the community that best address our patients’ various immigration legal concerns. This may include applying for work authorization, visa extensions, green cards, citizenship, asylum, TPS, DACA, or other special statuses.
If you have questions for our Citizenship and Immigration Rights Navigator please contact them at [email protected] and 617.414.9366.
Forensic Medical Evaluation Group (FMEG)
The BMC Immigrant & Refugee Health Center has trained forensic experts who can help our patients with the legal documentation associated with asylum application. Our Forensic Medical Evaluation Group (FMEG) aims to:
- Provide independent forensic medical evaluations that are consistent with international best practices.
- Increase accountability to perpetrators through documentation.
- Further prevent future ill-treatment, therefore improve the public health.
At this time, our FMEG program offers medical and psychological affidavits for established patients who receive their primary care at Boston Medical Center. Our process includes:
- Consult: Our FMEG coordinator will coordinate with client’s attorney a consultation appointment with the Forensic Medical Evaluation team to assess their priority health needs and social circumstances. Prior to the consultation, we ask that the asylum-seeker's lawyer will provide our team with their declaration.
- Evaluation: Our FMEG coordinator will coordinate with the client’s attorney for them to return to the clinic to complete medical and/or psychological evaluation and document any physical and/or psychological trauma. Evaluator will document any physical trauma such as scars by using diagrams and photographs. Please note psychological evaluation will require three to four visits with our evaluator.
- Affidavit Drafting & Submission: Our evaluators will draft and finalize the client's affidavit. The affidavit will be submitted to the asylum-seeker's lawyer.
The Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights (BCRHHR) in the Dept. of Psychiatry has a long and robust history of offering career development services, which include career coaching, resume development, and advising on best practices for a US job search. In addition, they facilitate job readiness trainings, coordinate an online core job search program, and develop programs with internal stakeholders and employers to apply job readiness skills and generate opportunities for employment. For more information about the career development services offered through the BCRHHR, please visit their website.
English as a Second Language (ESL)
We partner with AES World Languages and Cultures Institute (AWLCI) to offer ESL training on-site and to refer patients off site. Our ESL tutoring program pairs BMC volunteers, who are trained by AWLCI, with individual patients to offer 1-1 tutoring. Our tutors can work with patients at any level of English proficiency to help them achieve their learning goals.
Preventative Food Pantry
Many of our patients benefit from additional access to healthy foods. Created in 2001, the BMC Food Pantry works to address nutrition-related illness and under-nutrition for patients in need. Providers across the BMC Immigrant & Refugee Health Center are able to provide referrals for our patients to access the BMC Food Pantry. For more information, please visit the Preventative Food Pantry website.