Fall Fête: A Celebration of Courage

 About The Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights at BMC

Since 1998, the Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights at BMC (BCRHHR) has evolved organically in response to the needs of refugees and torture survivors in the Greater Boston area. The program has served more than 2,000 people from more than 95 countries since its inception. Utilizing an innovative, holistic approach, the Center works with survivors of torture and refugee communities from around the world to provide vital care for a healthy body, mind and soul.

What does the Center do?

The Center embodies Boston Medical Center’s mission to provide exceptional care, without exception and honors the importance of community as a vehicle of healing and recovery. To accomplish this, the Center offers comprehensive medical and mental health care coordinated with social services and legal aid for asylum seekers, refugees, survivors of torture and their families. The Center trains professionals to serve this population, conduct research to understand and implement best-practices and promote health and human rights, locally and globally, to improve the quality of life for survivors of torture and their communities.

Quick Facts about the Center:

  • 85% of patients have a personal or family history of torture.
  • The majority of clients were seeking asylum in the United States.
  • Medical examinations for new clients include:
    • History and physical examination;
    • Complete blood count with differential;
    • Evaluation of sexual transmitted diseases;
    • Assessment of exposure to tuberculosis;
    • Viral hepatitis evaluation;
    • Urinalysis;
    • Infant metabolic screening;
    • Assessment for mental disorders;
    • Vaccinations;
    • Lead screening;
    • Evaluation; and
    • Treatment of potential parasites or malaria.

Did you know?

  • Asylum seekers may be forced to escape quickly, leaving children and spouses at home, often in unsafe situations. BCRHHR's clients may experience grief and guilt for leaving their families.
  • Asylum seekers often arrive to the U.S. with few resources regardless of their socioeconomic background. They are often ineligible to work for months or years. As a result, they may have little means to pay for food, transportation or other basic needs which act as barriers to receiving health care. BCRHHR works with patients to find short and long-term solutions to address these barriers through the case management and career development programs.
  • Refugees and asylum seekers may be separated from their children for years before reuniting. While these reunifications are joyful, they also present challenges. Families are often separated from traditional forms of support, such as childcare, parents may inadvertently pass along trauma and related symptoms to their children. Parents often struggle as their children assume American identities, and in some households children must assume parental duties.
  • Often patients have had limited access to health care in their country of origin. As a result, they may have limited health literacy with respect to Western concepts of illness. Ideas about preventive care may be foreign. Part of the Center's work is to orient patients to the American health care system with the help of Refugee Patient Navigators.
  • After formally preparing one’s application for asylum, one must wait and wait, and wait. It can actually take one to two years from the time of entry to having a job, during which time one is dependent upon the generosity of others. BCRHHR's program is involved in this process through the provision of medical and psychological affidavits attesting to the history of torture and its effects.
  • Approximately 50% of patients are college educated. Back home, many clients were computer technicians, health professionals, journalists, office administrators, financial officers, teachers, grassroots development workers, businessmen and businesswomen. The Career Development program strives to revive the clients’ leadership and career potential.

“When my country turned against me, Life was at its worst; with a hopeless future waiting but Boston Center for Refugee health was just one step doubtlessly the next step I needed to make to see my smile again!  I thank you for your kindness, I will not soon forget; you’re one of the nicest people, I have ever met.  You took my hand from insecurity to security, Danger to safety and it’s the peace of mind I have today.  Long Live Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights.” - Anonymous BCRHHR client

For more information on the Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights at BMC please visit www.bcrhhr.org.





The mission of Boston Medical Center is unique and clear: to provide exceptional care without exception to the people of Greater Boston.

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