Where they come from

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*Numbers in chart above list percentages

The patients at the EMPOWER Clinic come from a wide variety of  backgrounds, but advocated for. Many of the clinic’s patients come from a place where access to adequate healthcare is limited, and resources to get such care are numbered, often leaving these underserved populations without any healthcare at all. Because of this, EMPOWER makes it a primary concern to take into account cultural factors such as the patient’s preferred languages, in order to weaken that barrier between a patient and her healthcare provider and to help keep the patient at ease during their visit. Dismantling the barriers between origins and increasing access to adequate healthcare is a top priority for us at the EMPOWER Clinic. Regardless of their nationality or experience, all of our patients show a need to be cared for.

 

the Health issues they face

*Numbers in chart above list percentages

Some of the patients whom the clinic observes come in for routine check-ups and exams, but for many of our patients, there is more to the visit, especially for patients seeking asylum. Most of the medical affidavits the EMPOWER Clinic provides are for survivors of Female Genital Cutting, however they are not limited to this issue. The challenges these patients face are vast, ranging from past and current experiences of sexual trauma to histories of sex trafficking, all of which require trauma-informed care and advocacy efforts from their health care providers. For many of our patients, these instances of violence are not singular events whose damage ends with that incident(s). The effects of this kind of abuse can be long-lasting and risk remaining unaddressed if access to appropriate healthcare is restricted.

 

How we help

The first and foremost concern when it comes to patient care at EMPOWER is wellbeing ,and if that means legally supporting our patients who seek refuge, we will not step down. With small actions like this, welcoming patients of all backgrounds with open arms, we aim to not only change the ways that healthcare professionals interact with their patients, but also create a platform where survivors can find strength and support.

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*As of 4/12/18

Out of the 80 of affidavits that have been written for patients at EMPOWER, 23 have been granted asylum, and 46 are still pending. Our advocacy efforts for patients requiring legal aid should set a precedent for other health care providers to approach patients with cultural differences in a culturally competent, understanding, and supportive way. Background should not be an obstacle to accessing adequate healthcare, and neither should cultural disparities. Cultural competence serves to not only provide a comfortable environment for all patients, but to also move towards a future where effective and mindful healthcare is provided for all who need it, especially as a means of seeking asylum.

Referrals come from a large variety of local community partners, including Bellevue’s Program for Survivors of Torture,  the Refugee Assistance Project at the City Bar Justice Center, Safe Horizon, Human Rights First, Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Program (SAVI), a number of independent lawyers who typically representing patients pro bono, and many more.

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