Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Replicating Refugee Healthcare Programs in Upstate New York

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

February 3, 2012


Central NY

Finger Lakes

Western NY






The United States has a longstanding history of accepting refugees in search of a new life, all of whom have fled war-torn countries or cannot safely return to their home country.

Approximately 3,000-5,000 refugees per year have resettled in New York State, the majority in the upstate region. Many refugees share similar health-related challenges that make it difficult to access health care, including exposure to torture, terrorism, and lengthy stays in refugee camps, as well as language barriers. Health care clinics have either shut their doors to new refugees or have closed down altogether because of the financial burden of treating these patients. With NYHealth support, Rochester General Hospital (RGH) developed and piloted a financially sustainable refugee health care model in the Rochester area in 2009. In 2012, NYHealth awarded a second grant to replicate the successful model in Utica and Buffalo, both of which have large populations of resettled refugees.

Under this grant, RGH replicated successful refugee health care programs—previously initiated in Monroe and Wayne counties in upstate New York—in Utica and Buffalo. The RGH project team designed a needs-specific implementation model to counties in these target areas. Important activities included networking, individual meetings, and focus groups with stakeholders, leaders, and on-the-ground medical providers. The implementation team at RGH was created and tasked with assimilating and coordinating all this information. The project team also provided technical guidance to health care providers; expanded the model by engaging health system leaders and on-the-ground physician champions, and provided intensive training to health systems contemplating or piloting the model with step-by-step instructions, reference materials, and a protocol manual.