Refugee Health Information for Providers

Refugees resettling in Rhode Island rely on healthcare providers to screen and treat them for medical conditions that may affect their health or the health of the community.

What you should do

Provide Health Screenings

In Rhode Island, voluntary resettlement agencies coordinate with screening sites to schedule appointments for health screenings. The refugee should bring a copy of his/her overseas exam results to the initial health screening in the United States.

Refugees should receive a health screening within 30 days of arrival (within 7 days for HIV+ refugees). Some refugees arrive with Class B conditions that require rapid follow-up. If this is the case, there will be a notation on the refugee’s overseas medical record indicating the follow-up needed and how quickly it should be provided.

Complete and Submit the Refugee Health Screening Form

The federal Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (Form I-693):

  • Reports results of a medical examination to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • Facilitates entry into the primary care system.
  • Identifies surveillance indicators to be tracked and analyzed by the Refugee Health Program.
  • Helps healthcare providers identify other needed health referrals and case reports.

Submit the completed and signed Form I-693 to USCIS. (more) The form should also be submitted to the Refugee Health Program within 30 days.

Provide Medical Care as Covered by Medicaid

Under federal legislation, refugees are eligible for eight months of medical coverage from their date of entry into the country. The medical coverage is administered through the state Medicaid program in the state in which they settled or paid by the federal Refugee Medical Assistance program.

In Rhode Island, refugees are enrolled in either RIte Care or Medical Assistance for the eight-month period. The refugee health screening is a covered expense under these programs. After the guaranteed coverage expires, refugees may continue to receive state health benefits if they meet the eligibility requirements put forth by the Department of Human Services. more

Be Culturally Aware in Your Care

Many refugees will not have had access to comprehensive healthcare for years, if ever. Their initial contact with you may be the first opportunity in their lives to receive client-focused, high-quality healthcare.
At the same time, building a relationship and providing optimal care to refugees can be a challenge for health professionals:

  • Refugees often lack knowledge of English, leading to feelings of isolation and mistrust.
  • The health system will often seem very complicated to refugees, and they may need assistance with acquiring prescriptions and other tasks.
  • Many refugees may be suffering from serious mental health conditions due to trauma and grief and may be stigmatized by their society.
  • There may be shame associated with certain contracted diseases, such as HIV.
  • Women may often prefer a female practitioner and may experience strong emotional and psychological responses during gynecological exams due to past sexual abuse.

What we are doing

We work with voluntary resettlement agencies and the provider community to ensure that refugees are offered the care for which they are eligible in a manner that is both medically and culturally appropriate.