Refugees and Rochester
Rochester has been actively resettling refugees since the 1980's. Dr. Tom McElligott, working out of Brown Square Health Center, cared for hundreds of refugees from Southeast Asia. Starting around 1998, Dr. Stockman and the Family Medicine Center/Highland Family Medicine, was the primary resettlement clinic for refugees arriving in Rochester. Some of the larger groups during this time were from Afghanistan and multiple African countries, including Liberia, Sierera Leone, and Somalia. In 2006, the financial burden associated with caring for refugees became too great for Highland Family Medicine and newly arriving refugees were mainly cared for by Brown Square, with Dr. Louise Bennet taking the lead for Brown Square. Following the retirement of Dr. Bennet, refugee care mainly shifted to the Rochester Regional Health System under the direction of Jim Sutton, RPA. Although where newly arrived refugees are directed for health care upon arrival in Rochester may change, all of the entities listed above continue to provide care for refugees and newly arriving refugees can change to any medical facility they want for health care.
Catholic Family Services is the resettlement agency in Rochester. They resettle about 700-800 refugees a year. Catholic Family Services helps find housing, ensures they get screened for TB, helps the newly arrived refugees access health care, ensures they get acclimated to and educated about US culture, and help refugees attend school and/or work. Many dedicated volunteers greatly extend the work Catholic Family Services does.
Upstate New York resettles large numbers of refugees every year, and Rochester is just one Upstate city that helps this very needy group of humans. Other very active refugee resettlement cities in upstate NY include Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Albany, and Binghamton, to name a few. The US resettles about 70,000 refugees a year. The actual number varies year to year, but hovers around 70,000. Given there are often more than 15 millions refugees in our world at any one time, the 70,000 resettled in the US is a very small percentage of the total.