With ever-tightening immigration policies and a dip in refugees admitted into the United States, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that refugee screening and health programs are also on the decline.
That is the dilemma Sinai Health Systems was facing with the closure of its Touhy Health Center. The Rogers Park-based medical center was the house of Sinai’s refugee health programs for 45
However, Sinai managed to save its refugee services by moving them to Logan Square’s Antillas Family Health Center (3109 W. Armitage Ave.).
While the location may be different, Sinai will ensure that the quality of health care remain the same.
“The Antillas clinic will house a streamlined version of the program in a centralized and accessible Chicago location,” said Dan Regan, Sinai’s Director of Communications. “Antillas will continue to offer refugee health screening, as well as its existing primary care services, with the ability to connect and refer refugees with health needs to both primary and specialty care providers.”
For Sinai, that also means ensuring its approach to refugee healthcare stays consistent.
“Often refugees come to the U.S. with little to no understanding of the English language and American culture,” Regan said. “Further, many refugees come to the U.S. with complex, compounded medical issues that have been neglected for years because they were denied or unable to access care in their country of origin.”
The move comes as the number for refugees admitted into the U.S. has dropped nationwide. Ragan said the change in federal refugee policies over the last year have heavily impacted the number of refugees entering the U.S. and Illinois.
“As a result, the number of refugee patients coming to Touhy dropped dramatically from over 2,000 annually just two years ago to less than 500 today,” he said.
While the decline of refugees admitted into the country could be good or bad depending on who you ask, the closure allows Sinai to reinvest that money (approximately $600,000 to $800,000) into its refugee screenings as well as other services.
“Relocating the program to the existing Antillas clinic ensures the highest level of care to meet current levels of refugees in a sustainable manner,” Regan said. “The move will also sustain the infrastructure necessary to respond to any changes in future refugee policies to support expansion to meet needs should they increase again in the future.”
While treating refugees’ complicated medical needs is a daunting task, it has long been a part of Sinai’s history. Mount Sinai Hospital, the original medical center, was first founded in 1919 to serve deprived Eastern European Jewish immigrants, as well as to train Jewish physicians who were previously denied education.
“For Sinai, serving the health needs of refugees and immigrants
As of Jan. 1, all of Sinai’s refugee health programs are now running at Logan Square’s