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Statement on EthnoMed Supporting Immigrants and Refugees

Author(s): J. Carey Jackson, MD, MPH, MA Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Washington; Medical Director, International Medicine Clinic, Harborview Medical Center; Medical Director, Northwest Health and Human Rights Coalition, Refugee and Immigrant Health Promotion Program and EthnoMed
Date Authored: January 27, 2017

EthnoMed.org is a program within Harborview Medical Center which is owned by the people of King County, Washington and operated by the University of Washington. As State funded entities we are careful to remain distant from, and neutral on legislative action and political endorsements. However, one in five people in the City of Seattle are born abroad and are immigrants, and 15% of the people housed on the medical and surgical services at Harborview at any given time require interpreter services. This website exists solely to support the care of immigrants and refugees, especially those routinely encountered at Harborview Medical Center. Consequently, we must be clear about policy at any level that threatens the health and well being of children, families, and our patients. 

The vilification of immigrants, and particularly Muslim refugees, has been accompanied by random spontaneous acts of aggression toward employees of airports and hospitals and on the streets. Delays in diagnoses, missed appointments and delays in care, failed communication, exacerbation of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and diabetes all result from heightened fear about moving with caution through public spaces in an atmosphere of tension and anxiety. EthnoMed.org will identify and report on public policies harming immigrant communities, and provide advocacy for immigrants and refugees, including programmatic services that support refugee families. This is in keeping with our mission to improve the health of refugees and immigrants and our values of patient centered public health and medicine.