Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Refugee Healthcare Project

Grant Amount

$167,628

Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

May 12, 2009

Region

Finger Lakes

Status

Closed

Website

http://www.viahealth.org/

SEE GRANT OUTCOMES

Rochester has a large and growing population of refugees. While they come from different parts of the world, these refugees often share inadequate past medical care, exposure to undetected/untreated disease, exposure to torture and terrorism, poverty, and language barriers that make it difficult to access health care.

Across the State, many refugee health programs have had to close because refugees lose their Medicaid coverage despite remaining eligible, interpretation services are very costly, standard Medicaid rates are too low, and there is often a lack of coordination among community resettlement agencies. Previously, refugee health services in Rochester were provided by two small community health centers, but both centers have stopped serving new refugees due to unsustainable costs of serving this population. NYSHealth awarded RGH a grant to serve as the health care provider for Rochester’s newly arriving refugees and develop and implement a more sustainable model.

The Rochester General Health System (RGHS) comprises the Rochester General Hospital—a 528-bed tertiary center—and seven affiliates, including the Rochester General Medical Group (RGMG). The RGMG is a multi-specialty group practice of 250 physicians that provide care at 37 health care centers in Monroe and Wayne counties. RGHS holds approximately one-third of the market share in the Rochester area.

Rochester has a large and growing population of refugees. While they come from different parts of the world, these refugees often share inadequate past medical care, exposure to undetected/untreated disease, exposure to torture and terrorism, poverty, and language barriers that make it difficult to access health care. Across the State, many refugee health programs have had to close because refugees lose their Medicaid coverage despite remaining eligible, interpretation services are very costly, standard Medicaid rates are too low, and there is often a lack of coordination among community resettlement agencies.

Previously, refugee health services in Rochester were provided by two small community health centers, but both centers have stopped serving new refugees due to unsustainable costs of serving this population. RGHS agreed to serve as the health care provider for Rochester’s newly arriving refugees and used these start-up funds to develop and implement a more sustainable model. Under its program, all new refugees receive their refugee health assessments that are federally mandated to be provided within 90 days of arrival, and have an established a relationships with a primary care provider. Additionally, RGHS—with assistance from the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency—has identified the barriers that caused previous refugee health programs to fail and has developed strategies to overcome them.