Expanding Access to Health Care for Newly Arrived Migrants
Special Projects Fund
September 25, 2023
More than 100,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since spring 2022.
Most migrants arrive with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Among them are children who need vaccines to enroll in schools, pregnant women needing immediate prenatal care, and people with a host of other physical health conditions, mental health issues, and trauma. In response, New York City has opened a central arrival center and several resource navigation centers where migrants can access necessities and be connected to community-based organizations. Additionally, NYC Health + Hospitals is providing emergency care, basic health care, and immunizations. Despite these resources, migrants face barriers when navigating the complex health system. The City’s safety net and housing systems have also been pushed to a breaking point, its emergency shelter population topping 100,000 in summer 2023. City officials have sought to relieve the pressure by busing more than 2,200 migrants to Western New York, Albany, and the Mid-Hudson region, with plans to relocate others to the Finger Lakes. But poor coordination has left those areas scrambling to meet demand for services and has contributed to growing tensions. In 2023, NYHealth awarded Terra Firma at Montefiore Medical Center a grant to address the urgent health and mental health needs of newly arriving migrants and asylum seekers settling in New York. NYHealth is also supporting complementary initiatives with Make the Road NY and the New York Immigration Coalition.
Under this grant, Terra Firma will deploy its mobile medical unit to provide preventive care to families housed at a sanctuary shelter and at three mixed shelters in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan, reaching 750 migrants. Care will include health screenings for vision, hearing, mental health issues, and developmental delays; pediatric exams for children to enter public schools; and medical evaluation to support pending asylum cases. By bringing care directly to migrants, it will mitigate transportation barriers and help them navigate an unknown city. Additionally, Terra Firma will conduct two immunization drives per month at these shelters, offering chickenpox, influenza, and COVID-19 vaccination.