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Bridging Healthcare Gaps for Immigrants

A Michigan nonprofit provides free healthcare for children who struggle to find it elsewhere

The small city of Hamtramck, Michigan, is home to many refugees who often struggle to find healthcare for their children. To ensure that children receive the care they need, Children’s Hospital of Michigan partnered with Hamtramck Public Schools to create a program that provides free healthcare to students right at the local high school. While all students are eligible for the program’s benefits, the main focus is on immigrant children who have a legal status as citizens but aren’t eligible for Medicaid coverage other than for emergency services.

“The health center’s driving force has always been to remove barriers to healthcare by providing free healthcare services to students attending Hamtramck Public Schools in an easily accessible setting, in an effort to improve their quality of life and optimize their academic potential,” said Marilyn Sarkesian, the program’s certified pediatric nurse practitioner.

Even if their children were born in the U.S., immigrant parents can face many obstacles when trying to find them healthcare, including immigration status, language and cultural differences, and stigma. By providing healthcare that’s accessible for all, the program helps immigrant parents overcome these challenges.

Since opening in 2000, the program has served children from over 40 different countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. Services provided include immunizations, physical exams, and healthcare education. Through partnerships with other healthcare providers and universities, the program also provides specialty services including mental health consultations, dental cleanings, and eyeglasses.

Read more from Rapid Growth.