The Refugee Women’s Health Clinic center provides access to comprehensive, culturally sensitive care for refugee women in and around Phoenix.
Refugees are individuals outside of their home country who are unable or unwilling to return due to persecution or well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a social group, or political opinion. Arizona hosts over 70,000 refugees with an average of 2,000 refugees arriving each year. Approximately half of the resettled refugees are women and girls.
Incoming refugees often lack the knowledge of how to navigate the U.S. healthcare system and bring with them misconceptions and myths regarding western medicine. These issues, combined with language barriers, low literacy, and cultural differences, often compound fear and distrust of the healthcare system. This can lead to low health-seeking behavior amongst refugee women, resulting in poor maternal and neonatal outcomes.
The Refugee Women’s Health Clinic of the Maricopa Integrated Health System is dedicated to reaching out to the underserved and supports the mission of refugee resettlement, which is to promote self-sufficiency in newly-arrived populations.
The clinic was created in 2008 to provide a culturally grounded, patient-centered medical home for the growing refugee community in Maricopa County. While providing obstetric and gynecological care, the RWHC emphasizes intensive case management, continuity of care, and linguistically-appropriate health navigation, with additional services such as educational classes, counseling, and community outreach. The RWHC has become a safe haven for many women seeking medical care for themselves and their families. The clinic has conducted over 8,000 patient visits to refugee and immigrant women from 49 different countries, speaking 41 different languages.
The caring staff at the RWHC is sensitive to the physical, psychological, and social health needs of refugees, providing integrated care to help them overcome their previous, sometimes traumatic, experiences. MIHS specifically employs members of the refugee community within the RWHC as Cultural Health Navigators who act as liaisons between the health care system and patients. Maximizing the level of care as well as the comfort of the clinic environment, these invaluable members of the clinic team are both multilingual and multicultural, offering in-person interpretation services to patients in out- and inpatient care settings.