Online Program

Refugee accompaniment health partnership program: Empowering refugees to independently navigate the healthcare system

Monday, November 4, 2013

Emily Watters, School of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Emily McCullar, School of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Bich Hien Dinh, School of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Isaac Gill, Department of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
Jason Rosenfeld, MPH, Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
San Antonio is home to over 5000 international refugees who have been displaced because of war, famine, and persecution. Sustained access to primary healthcare is a challenge due to logistical and cultural barriers identified through our primary research. To mitigate these barriers and empower refugees to navigate the healthcare system, medical students developed and implemented an intervention modeled after accompaniment programs utilized domestically and internationally. The Refugee Accompaniment Health Partnership program recruited and assigned students from health professional and community health worker (CHW) disciplines to a refugee from the San Antonio Refugee Health Clinic (SARHC). Students taught the refugees how to enroll in CareLink, a healthcare financial assistance program, and to complete a doctor's appointment, including the use of public transportation and free clinical translation services. Students accompanied the refugees in completing doctor's appointments as the refugees put into practice behaviors to combat barriers to healthcare access. Over six months, the refugees independently completed the tasks without student accompaniment. The needs of this population extend beyond those identified through our primary research. The CHW's were vital in beginning to address these other issues, which include food security. Students gained awareness of the needs and determinants of a highly vulnerable population. Consequently, we've created a guidebook to help SARHC and other refugee-friendly organizations better integrate refugees into the healthcare system. We plan to share our findings with refugee resettlement programs in San Antonio so as to better train their staff and subsequently, the refugees soon after they arrive in the USA.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
List the barriers to healthcare access for refugees living in San Antonio. Describe the student accompaniment model. Explain the resources available for individuals assisting vulnerable populations. Identify the necessary steps to connecting a refugee to the healthcare system.

Keyword(s): Refugees, Interventions

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator for this project and have completed a qualitative research project concerning the refugee population in San Antonio. I was the student coordinator for 1 year at the student-run San Antonio Refugee Health Clinic. I am a MD/MPH student and one of my areas of interest is connecting vulnerable populations to available health care resources.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.