The United States has become a new home for many people seeking refuge from war, persecution, failed states, and unremitting instability. Ohio has been at the forefront of welcoming newly arrived refugees and has consistently been in the top six states for numbers of refugee arrivals, welcoming 2,815 refugees from 30 different countries in FY 2014. The rapid increase in numbers of refugees resettled in Ohio has been due in large part to the diligent work of diverse Ohio agencies working together in effective partnerships.
Within the past five years, Ohio has welcomed over 13,000 refugees and has developed a set of resettlement best practices, innovative programs, and an intentional focus on comprehensive coordination of care that has moved refugee resettlement beyond the basics of a checklist. Collaborative resettlement and integrated refugee health care exists in Ohio, but it is in the beginning stages and still without all the necessary stakeholders as part of the core process. Partners with skill sets from health care and medical education, community engagement, and public health must act in unison to elevate the health status of this vulnerable population.
Most importantly, the voice of the refugee must be at the center of emerging strategies. Refugee-Centered Medical Home-PCMH Working Better for Our Newest Neighbors aims to better understand the health perspectives of Ohio’s refugee populations. So far, the bulk of best practices for healthcare delivery have been determined by expert opinion, national guidelines, and anecdotal experience. To achieve full health potential, refugees need to guide our development and further research.