It can be difficult for service providers and communities to locate healthcare providers who are trained in refugee and immigrant health best practices. In addition, the U.S. resettlement landscape is changing with the expansion of different categories such as parolees. Finding healthcare providers who understand these varied communities’ unique health needs, who work with interpreters, and who accept a particular insurance plan (or no insurance) can seem daunting. This blog post introduces a new resource from the Society of Refugee Healthcare Providers that can help.
Every year, the Society of Refugee Healthcare Providers conducts a mapping exercise of U.S. healthcare providers who have shared that they provide care or are potentially interested in providing care for refugees and immigrants. Additionally, the Society completes an online search for self-described refugee health clinics and/or healthcare centers that have reported serving patients who are refugees or other newcomers. With support from Switchboard, this list was last updated in April 2023. Click here to access it. We hope that this list serves as a useful starting point for service providers who are trying to locate clinicians for clients.
This mapping exercise is intended to be a “living” document and is not an exhaustive list. There are many healthcare providers, such as mental health providers, who may work with newcomer patients but who are not yet on the list. Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your recommendations for healthcare providers to add, update, or remove.
Tips for Using the Directory
- Remember to research: Switchboard did not assess quality of care or other key factors about the healthcare providers included on this list. Inclusion of providers on this list is not an endorsement. We recommend that you research the different organizations listed and specific providers within those entities to evaluate their ratings and any other information you can find.
- Find individual providers: Within organizations, there may be specific individuals who specialize in refugee and immigrant health. This is often, but not always, listed in their online biographies. (And while it may not be listed on the provider’s clinical biography, this detail may be included on their academic biography—try doing a broad online search of the provider’s name.) You can use clinic websites’ search bars and input “refugee” or “immigrant,” as some organizations tag providers by a “refugee health” specialty; or try other key search teams such as a specific language or “interpretation services.” You can also call the clinic and ask for providers who specifically care for newcomer patients. Federally qualified health centers commonly provide care to immigrants and refugees, and the Health Resources & Services Administration has a full list by state.
- Check insurance and services: Don’t forget to ask the provider if they work with the client’s specific insurance plan. If the client is uninsured, ask if they are able to provide a sliding-scale fee and/or cost estimate. The types of healthcare services available will also vary. Some organizations only provide the refugee health assessment and not ongoing clinical care. Additionally, clinics may or may not offer interpretation or transportation services. These are all important questions to ask when calling any clinic or provider included in the directory.
- Know that providers change: Some organizations specialize in refugee and immigrant health, while others are on this list because just a few of their providers are specialized. Providers change jobs, relocate, or become unable to accept new patients. This list may therefore change.
Still Having a Hard Time Finding a Provider?
Here are a few suggestions if you are still having a hard time finding a provider after looking through the directory:
- Ask for suggestions from the listed organization: Even if the organization listed in the directory for your state is not a good fit for the client (for example, the clinic is in another part of the state or does not work with the client’s insurance plan), we recommend asking them for suggestions. The refugee and immigrant health world is a relatively small one compared to other health specialties. The organization may know of colleagues working in other parts of the state.
- Ask your partners: Other good contacts to ask include colleagues at other resettlement agencies, community-based organizations, or ethnic community-based organizations; the entity responsible for refugee health screenings; and your state refugee health coordinator.
- Call the insurance company: If your client has health insurance, call the insurance company or look on their website to locate local healthcare providers who accept their insurance. (Be aware: the health insurance company’s list can be out of date.) Then call those local healthcare providers to determine what their capacities are and whether they can provide care to newcomers. Sometimes clinics have not traditionally served refugee and immigrant patients but are excited to start. If you can, provide the clinic with a “Newcomer Health 101” training, and direct them to further resources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Society of Refugee Healthcare Providers, National Resource Center for Refugees, Immigrants, and Migrants (NRC-RIM), and the Center of Excellence in Newcomer Health (Minnesota; Colorado).
Create a Local Providers List
Once you have used this directory as a jumping-off point, it can be helpful to add to it by keeping your own list of local providers. This list can be something as simple as a spreadsheet with different columns for the provider’s name, gender, contact information, city, medical specialty (e.g., primary care, eye care, dental care), insurance plans they work with, and languages available (e.g., languages the provider speaks; access to and/or willingness to work with interpreters). That way, when you’re working with a client, you can use the list and filter by categories such as city and specialty to find a provider who may be a good fit.
This list can be time intensive to create and keep up to date, but it can ultimately save time because you won’t have to call many different medical providers each time a client needs one. It also can be easily shared between staff and with partner agencies, and it helps an organization retain information even after a staff member leaves. Keeping this list updated makes for a good volunteer, student, or intern project.