Refugees arriving in the United States must undergo an initial health screening. More than 20,000 refugees live in the greater Cleveland area. NFP began serving refugees in 2010 in response to this community’s need for health screenings and ongoing primary care. NFP now provides health screenings for more than 95% of new arrivals in Cuyahoga County and is one of five refugee health screening sites in Ohio.
NFP is the primary healthcare provider for the three refugee resettlement agencies in greater Cleveland and we work with each agency daily to provide newly arriving refugees their two health screens at NFP’s Ridge Community Health Center. The team is led by a refugee clinic coordinator and consists of medical providers, a nurse coordinator, medical assistants and a patient advocate. At the screening, refugee patients receive a health history, physical exam, blood work, vaccinations, a visual screening, hearing test and mental health screening. Follow-up appointments can be scheduled with NFP’s medical and behavioral health providers.
Refugees require more comprehensive care coordination compared to other patients. NFP refers refugees to specialists and helps coordinate transportation to and from appointments. NFP has Arabic- and Nepali-speaking staff members and uses live interpreters as well as an interpreting phone service to communicate with refugees in their native language.
Refugee Services has provided health screenings to more than 4,000 patients representing three continents and 18+ countries in the past six years. After their initial screenings, 85% of refugees continue to use NFP as their primary care provider, making up almost 20% of NFP’s patient population. In a recent survey, 100% of refugees would recommend their NFP doctor to others in the community and 81% of refugees stated their health has improved since seeing a doctor at NFP.
Refugees face many barriers when they arrive in the United States: language, employment, and knowledge and understanding of American systems and cultural norms. In order to better serve the rising numbers of refugees resettling in Northeast Ohio, NFP partners with the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland.
Click here to read an article about a "recent study by Chmura Economics & Analytics, which challenges stereotypes and may illuminate a new economic development strategy. Far from burdening a community, refugees tend to assimilate quickly, find work, buy houses and often start businesses."
Refugee Services Team
Lindsay Perez joined NFP in 2016 as the Refugee Program Coordinator. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Bucknell University in 2011 in addition to completing training with the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Lindsay worked as an Engineer Branch Officer for the United States Army and was most recently stationed in Fort Knox, Kentucky. She also previously taught English to refugees while working in Egypt and the West Bank.
Joannah Lynch, CNP
Joannah Lynch, CNP received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Science in Nursing from Case Western Reserve University. Joannah speaks Spanish and enjoys providing the highest quality, culturally competent nursing care to all of her patients.
Jason Cheek, RN, BSN
Jason Cheek received his bachelor’s degree from Kent State University. Prior to coming to Neighborhood Family Practice, he worked as a nurse at MetroHealth. As the refugee program nursing coordinator, Jason is responsible for working with the providers to coordinate the care of all refugee patients.
Meredith Baumgartner joined NFP in July 2016 as the Refugee Services Advocate. She received her master’s degree in nonprofit administration and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from John Carroll University. Before coming to NFP, Meredith worked as the Resource Development Specialist at The Refugee Response. She also previously worked with the Tremont West Development Corporation and former Councilman Joe Cimperman.
Below is a patient story of one of the refugee families NFP served:
Lila arrived to the United States from a Nepalese refugee camp in June 2010. Newly pregnant, she began continuing OB care with a midwife at Neighborhood Family Practice. Lila’s pregnancy was unplanned and viewed as a mistake by her new Nepalese community. Although she was living with her brother and sister-in-law, she still felt alone and without any support. As the pregnancy progressed, she became fearful of being alone after the baby was born.
NFP’s Patient Advocate became involved in helping Lila prepare for the pregnancy, ensuring that an interpreter or the language line was always available, sending referrals to different social services agencies requesting any recently donated baby items and checking in regularly through a phone interpreter to see how Lila was doing. Lila gave birth to a healthy baby girl in March 2011, and the baby is now also a patient at Neighborhood Family Practice.