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Caring for Women who are Immigrants and Refugees

Caring for Women who are Immigrants and Refugees


For women who are immigrants, refugees, or asylum seekers, leaving their countries is only half the battle. Real challenges continue upon arrival to the USA, including having to start a new life in a foreign country and beginning to address the physical and mental stress that arose from their displacement.

The Refugee Women’s Health Clinic provides culturally sensitive, trauma-informed OB/GYN services to these women. Clinic providers offer pregnancy and postpartum care, annual check-ups, gynecologic care, contraception counseling, and surgical consultations. Staff also provide care specific to the needs of this unique population, such as medical affidavit writing for women seeking asylum and consultation for those who underwent female genital cutting.

Many of the patients seen at the clinic are victims of rape, violence, or torture in their home countries. "One of my patients was from East Africa and was pregnant as a result of rape” says Courtney Massaro, CNM, MPH, one of the clinic’s providers. “I saw her for her pregnancy and postpartum care and during that time referred her to a mental health provider and a PCP who understood the unique stresses involved with her situation. Our holistic approach to her healthcare—both during and after pregnancy—were important to providing her the best care possible."

Patients who visit the clinic have direct access to the Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights, which provides mental health care, career development, and social services, as well as the Immigrant and Refugee Health Program and select providers within the Family Medicine Department, where patients can receive primary care and medical affidavit services.

"A patient came to see me after experiencing significant sexual trauma in her country and a real fear of having a physical exam,” said Sheela Maru, MD, MPH, the clinic’s gynecologist. “We worked with her and her mental health team at the Boston Center for Refugee Health, and were able to complete important tests and an exam. Addressing her gynecologic issues alongside her mental health issues, were crucial first steps in her recovery."

In addition to obstetrics and gynecologic health care, the clinic also provides social and case management services, including helping patients with their housing, legal support, food access, and transportation needs. The team speaks Spanish and French and has access to in-person and phone interpreter services in over 30 languages. All patients are seen regardless of their ability to pay. Access to financial services and health insurance guidance is also available for all patients.

Visit BMC.org/refugee-womens-health to learn more.

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