Assisting Newcomers with Navigating the U.S. Health Care System: An Introduction for Direct Service Providers

Recently arrived newcomers to the United States and the service providers who support them face many barriers in navigating the complex U.S. health care system. While systems navigation is difficult for all refugee and other newcomer clients, the recent influx of Afghan and Ukrainian newcomers has shed new light on these challenges. This training will review U.S. health care coverage options and health-related benefits, including the initial domestic medical screening available to newcomers. This foundational systems knowledge will help providers support newcomers in accessing health care services that align with their strengths and needs. Participants will also have the opportunity to ask questions of a panel composed of qualified experts on this topic.  

This training is geared toward direct service staff, including case workers, medical case workers, case managers, etc., who are interested in an introductory understanding of the different health care benefits and coverage options available to their clients. This training is also relevant for community partners and sponsors providing initial resettlement assistance to newcomers.  

After attending this 90-minute session, you will be able to:  

  • Describe U.S. health care coverage options and health-related benefits available to newcomers, including Medicaid, Refugee Medical Assistance (RMA), and others  
  • Name key U.S. health services available to newcomers, including the domestic medical screening, primary care, and others  
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Mary Fabio

Mary Fabio, MD, is a Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) pediatrician and director of the CHOP Refugee Health Program, which she co-founded. Dr. Fabio is a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and an attending physician in the CHOP Care Network. She has had a strong interest in global health since her early career and has traveled to Central and South America for medical work. Dr. Fabio is also a medical advocate for the Reach Out and Read Program at the Karabots Pediatric Care Center.   

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Marc J. Altshuler

Marc J. Altshuler, MD, is a Professor in Family Medicine, the Residency Program Director for the Department of Family Medicine, and the Founder and Director of the Thomas Jefferson University Center for Refugee and Immigrant Health. In July 2007, the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Jefferson began a relationship with the Nationalities Service Center (NSC) to create a medical home model to achieve equity in health care access and health outcomes for refugees resettled in Philadelphia. As the largest single provider for refugees in the city, he also co-founded the Philadelphia Refugee Health Collaborative, which brought together three existing refugee resettlement agencies, along with numerous academic medical centers in Philadelphia. 

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Ariel Ressler MacNeill

Ariel Ressler MacNeill serves as the Senior Manager of Health Access and Specialized Supports at Nationalities Service Center (NSC), a Philadelphia-based refugee resettlement and immigrant services organization. In this role, Ariel oversees NSC’s health programming and on-site food pantry. She also coordinates the Philadelphia Refugee Health Collaborative, a collaboration of area resettlement agencies and refugee clinic partners. Before joining NSC's team, Ariel worked with Philadelphia children and families as a case manager and worked in Laos developing a curriculum with a peace building group. Ariel earned a Master of Public Health degree from Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Justice, Peace and Conflict Studies from Eastern Mennonite University. 

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Blain Mamo

Blain Mamo is the Refugee Health Coordinator at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). She oversees the planning, coordination, and implementation of the statewide refugee screening program. She is also the Principal Investigator of Minnesota’s Center of Excellence in Newcomer Health’s activities, a CDC-funded cooperative agreement. She joined MDH in 2003 as a health educator, and prior to holding her current position, she was the Senior Refugee Health Epidemiologist in the program, directing all aspects of multi-disease surveillance and development of the enhanced surveillance database. Her special interests focus on global health, health equity, and social justice. Blain Mamo earned her B.S. in Chemistry and Biology from Bemidji State University, Minnesota, and her M.P.H. in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota.