Refugee and International Health Quarterly: October 2022

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Refugee and International Health Quarterly

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October 2022

Greetings from the Refugee and International Health (RIH) Team

In this issue of our quarterly newsletter, we will:

  • Provide an update on the Ukrainian arrival response we have been involved in for the last few months.
  • Give insight into the amazing work Cynthia Trevino, RHP’s new Health Systems Coordinator, manages.
  • Get an update from our colleagues at International Health.
  • Highlight a community partner that provides refugee health screenings on the go.

On Tuesday, October 11, 2022, we re-launched our monthly Minnesota Immigrant and Refugee Health Network (MIRHN) meetings. One of the lessons we learned during COVID-19 is the importance of staying connected and working across our disciplines; hosting these webinars is a great way to stay in touch and help us provide the best services for newcomers. To learn more about MIRHN and subscribe for announcements with future meetings and updates, visit Metro Immigrant and Refugee Health Network.

November MIRHN meeting

We are grateful for your partnership and look forward to our ongoing collaboration!

Staff Highlight: Cynthia Treviño as the Health Systems Coordinator

In May 2022, Cynthia Treviño, LISW, MSW, joined the MDH Refugee Health Program as the Health Systems Coordinator. Cynthia’s experiences prior to MDH include working across health care settings as a medical social worker. Most of her career has focused on working directly with immigrant and refugee communities in primary care clinics, community health centers, hospitals, and emergency departments.

“There is a reason I am doing this work, it's healing, it's connection, it's supporting the systems we have in place that welcome new families and support them in some of the hardest moments of their lives.”

Cynthia Treviño, LISW

As the Health Systems Coordinator for the Refugee Health Program (RHP), one of Cynthia’s roles includes providing support and coordination through the Complex Medical Case Program. This program began in 2010, as a way for the RHP to provide more in-depth support, resources, and guidance to local public health and resettlement agencies. The program serves refugees and other humanitarian protected immigrants who have chronic health conditions or other significant medical needs that require specific supplemental access to care beyond the routine refugee health assessment. A care plan is created to provide direction and access to care, which often require expedited access to primary care. Whether it be working with case managers and public health or connecting to specialty health care providers, Cynthia works collaboratively with and the case managers and health care providers to ensure access to adequate care in a timely manner. For many newcomers, such as humanitarian parolees, she connects with the families and their support groups to help them navigate the health care system and identify needed resources.

“There is a plethora of initiatives, networks, efforts being put into making our systems more accessible and equitable, but sometimes it feels like we are still working in silos. If we can break down those dividers that keep each of us in our own sectors, and come together in true unity, I think we can be better than we already are.”

If you have specific questions about the Complex Medical Case Program or would like to connect with Cynthia directly, please feel free to email her at or call 651-201-4034.

Ukrainian Newcomers

For the last several months, Minnesota has been welcoming Ukrainian humanitarian parolees to the state. These arrivals are eligible for similar benefits as those who come through traditional refugee resettlement pathways, including health insurance and a free comprehensive health assessment performed by experts in newcomer health.

During the traditional refugee resettlement process, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Refugee Health Program (RHP) notifies county public health staff of new arrivals who then work to coordinate health screenings. This process is instrumental in ensuring new arrivals can access quality health care quickly.

Due to several important differences in the way in which Ukrainians are settling in the United States, RHP is not receiving official notifications of new arrivals. This has provided an opportunity for refugee health partners in the state to come together in new and creative ways to ensure these newest Minnesotans are able to access the best care available. RHP developed a secure online notification system through which anyone can refer a new arrival for assistance with health needs: New Arrival Notification and Screening Referral.

Aggregate and anonymous data is shared through weekly partner calls and relationships with community-based organizations such as the Ukrainian American Community Center. This referral is sent to local public health partners, who then coordinate a refugee health screening and assist with other health-related concerns; often, this means going above and beyond their traditional coordination roles to ensure Ukrainian newcomers can be as healthy as possible.

As of October 11, 2022, 509 Ukrainians who have been paroled in the U.S. have been referred to MDH. The top counties of residence for these new arrivals are Hennepin (161 arrivals), Anoka (106), Sherburne (48), Dakota (47), Ramsey (37), and Scott (37).

2022 Ukraine Parolee Arrivals to Minnesota (N=509) *reported to MDH as of 10/10/22

Among those reported to MDH, 317 (62%) are female. The average age at the time of U.S. arrivals is 27 years (range: 2 months – 83 years). One hundred ninety-four (38%) are children (under 18 years of age).

Learn more about health access for Ukrainian newcomers at Ukrainians Arriving in Minnesota.

Access Trusted Messenger On-Demand Training

NRC-RIM launched a new on-demand online training module that uses excerpts from the Trusted Messenger documentary to demonstrate how to overcome COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in marginalized communities. The pandemic has confirmed what many people already knew: that trusted messengers have incredible influence in their communities, and it is worth the investment of time and patience to be able to have effective conversations with others. The lessons learned through this training can be applied to not just COVID-19, but other public health measures around routine vaccinations, monkeypox, and other infectious diseases.

More information on this resource can be found at
NRC-RIM On-Demand Training: Trusted Messengers.

Community Spotlight: Odam Medical Group

When Jamie Kollar, Sherburne County Public Health nurse, needed to coordinate refugee health screenings for two new families from Afghanistan, she ran into challenges she knew all too well: scheduling and transportation.

Arranging for a family of seven to be seen for their newcomer screenings is no easy task. Delays in screening initiation can exacerbate health-related barriers to successful resettlement. It can take a lot of creativity and persistence to ensure they don’t go back and forth multiple times to complete these essential screenings.

Operating in the St. Cloud area for two and half years, Odam Medical Group recently began pioneering a mobile clinic project sponsored by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. This full-service clinic includes everything needed to provide quality care including Wi-Fi, a generator, air conditioning, refrigerators, electric exam table, vitals machine, computers with electronic medical records access, and most importantly, the staff that make it all work. Dr. Odam, Medical Director, drives this 31-foot mobile clinic from residence to residence providing primary care services, now including refugee health screenings.

Jamie approached Abena Odam, Clinic Operations Director, to see if their mobile clinic could help address the scheduling and transportation barriers and conduct the screenings for the newly arrived families. In under a week, they were able to bring their van to the newcomer’s home and assess the whole family, including labs and immunizations. No work or school days were missed, and the family was able to get excellent care at their doorstep.

Of course, this is not the first time Odam Medical Group has provided excellent care in the face of challenges. After COVID-19 vaccines became available, Odam Medical Group leveraged it’s community engagement expertise and vaccinated 18,000 patients in three months. Read more at Community Care Clinics of Minnesota–Odam Medical: An outstanding community partnership to vaccinate immigrants in Minnesota.

Visit Odam Medical Group to learn more about the services they offer.

Odam Medical Group’s Mobile Clinic

Center of Excellence in Newcomer Health

The Center of Excellence in Newcomer Health is hosting numerous trainings for health care professionals this fall.

  • We’re excited to partner with ECHO Colorado to host a series of trainings on Newcomer Health starting this month. They will be held the last Tuesday of each month at 8:00 a.m. CT (no session will take place in December 2022). Registration is ongoing and participants can attend any sessions they wish. Register at ECHO Colorado: Newcomer Health.
  • Visit Center of Excellence in Newcomer Health: Webinars for more training opportunities and recorded webinars.

Subscribe to Center of Excellence in Newcomer Health Updates to receive email updates from the Center highlighting CareRef, screening guidance, webinars, Immigrant Health Matters quarterly articles, and other resources.

New Traveler's Health Newsletter Subscription

Subscribe to our Traveler's Health Newsletter for the latest materials and resources and important travel-related infectious disease information from MDH. We hope that this newsletter helps you and your partners improve the health and engagement of international travelers in Minnesota. To learn more about traveler's health, visit International Travel & Infectious Disease.