COVID-19: Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights

We have known that the vast majority of our patients are in the health care industry caring for elders and the infirmed. They often work as certified nursing assistants, home health aides and residential counselors within nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals and group homes where now we know that over 50% of Massachusetts COVID-19 fatalities originate.

March 17, 2020 brought significant changes to our Department of Psychiatry and Hospital ushering in an era of telepsychiatry overnight. Like others, we have adapted our practice to provide services in a different way from needed evaluations, therapy, psychopharm, and case management to interventions for writing resumes, looking for work, and doing asylum affidavits. While BCRHHR has transitioned to remote work, we are still taking virtual walk-ins of potential clients in dire need of assistance. BCRHHR continues to be an extended community for our patients, as they often identify our providers as their only opportunities for connection while still building their own social and natural supports. We have also been reaching out to patients who have many questions and may fear coming to the hospital, such that we have been facilitating referrals to IRHC providers to be assessed for COVID-19.

We realized however that we needed to do more to support our patients. We immediately gathered important numbers, websites and contact information and placed them on our website as we became acutely aware of the impact of food and job insecurity and need for information which we have been updating also using our BCRHHR Facebook page. That turned into a weekly email blast to our active patients in an effort to provide additional information as to how to keep oneself safe from becoming infected or infecting others.  This has become extremely important in view of their high risk occupations.  We are hearing from our patients about COVID symptoms and positive tests, hospitalizations, and the need to quarantine in workplaces or at home. We have since learned many of our patients are sending our educational materials to their families in Uganda which is experiencing significant misinformation about the virus.

These are challenging times for all of us. We are inspired by our patients’ faith, their work ethic and courage in a land away from family who they pray to see again.

To learn more about the Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Right, please visit their website.