HEAL- Refugee Health & Asylum Collaborative

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Project Title

HEAL Refugee Health and Asylum Collaborative

Project Summary

The HEAL Refugee Health and Asylum Collaborative is a partnership among Johns Hopkins University (JHU), the Esperanza Center/Catholic Charities, and Loyola University Maryland to increase access to forensic physical and psychological evaluations, mental health care, and other services to survivors of torture and trauma seeking refuge in the United States. As the first and only such dedicated physical clinic in the Baltimore area HEAL works to address the needs of Baltimore’s burgeoning population of asylum-seekers. Asylum status is determined based on whether an individual meets the international and federal definition of a refugee, i.e., they are unable or unwilling to return to their home country due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, and/or membership in a particular social group. The number of individuals seeking asylum in the Baltimore region has increased significantly, reflective both of national trends as well as Baltimore’s status as a destination for migrants from the Northern Triangle of Central America, many of whom are fleeing violence and persecution.

Trained healthcare providers, working in partnership with immigration attorneys and legal service organizations, can provide critical support in the form of forensic physical and psychological evaluations to those seeking asylum or other forms of legal protection. By offering objective, credible evidence to the immigration office or court in the form of sworn testimony documenting physical and psychological sequelae of past trauma, these forensic affidavits have been shown to significantly increase applicants’ chances of approval for protection (e.g., from 37.5% to 89% nationally).

In addition to serving as a center of excellence for forensic physical and psychological evaluations and responding to an identified need in the Greater Baltimore region, HEAL Refugee Health and Asylum Collaborative seeks to become a national leader in the area of refugee health, refugee trauma, and asylum medicine, publishing and disseminating best practices and relevant research to impact local and national policy through leveraging the unique strengths of our partner institutions and their affiliates. HEAL Refugee Health and Asylum Collaborative will also serve as a valuable interprofessional training site for learners of diverse backgrounds, expanding competency in cross-cultural communication, interprofessional collaboration, immigrant health, human rights, trauma-informed care, forensic evaluation, and medical-legal partnerships.



Project Details

Principal InvestigatorFunder
Cuneo, C. Nicholas – MD, MPHThe Aaron and Lillie Straus Foundation

The Abell Foundation

The Goldseker Foundation

The Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation

Project Start Date
Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine07/01/2022Co – Investigator
Project End Date
Bazaz, Nouf – PhD, MAN/AOther Co – Investigators
Team Members
N/ATBD – Program Manager
Contact Information

Email: info@healasylum.org


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