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Refugees Newly Arrived in U.S. Find Care in Fargo, North Dakota

Family HealthCare received $200,000 from Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity, via Eli Lilly and Company, to expand mental health services to patients.


Health Equity

People celebrate World Refugee Day in Fargo, North Dakota. The area's health center has expanded to met health needs of those who have recently arrived from other countries. (Image by Olly Riley Smith for Direct Relief)

Fargo, North Dakota, may not spring to mind as a haven for people recently arrived to the U.S., but many people do begin resettlement in the area, and one health center is stepping up to meet their mental health needs.

Family HealthCare is a comprehensive primary care clinic and federally qualified health center providing medical, dental, behavioral health, and optometric care in North Dakota and western Minnesota.

The health center serves 17,000 patients, and over the past 10 years, the Fargo-Moorhead area has become the home for over 6,000 people who are refugees or recently arrived in the United States, the majority of whom seek medical care at the clinic and include people who speak over 40 different languages.

The center offers medical interpretation in 10 languages, and racial and ethnic minorities, people experiencing homelessness, Indigenous peoples, and gender-diverse people comprise a growing proportion of the clinic’s patient population.

A community needs assessment done before the pandemic uncovered that one in five respondents had been told or diagnosed by a health professional that they had depression or stress disorders. Because people in the greater Fargo-Moorhead region face several barriers to accessing mental and behavioral health services, including language barriers, homelessness or lack of social acceptance, the clinic is expanding to meet those needs.

Family HealthCare received $200,000 from Direct Relief’s Fund for Health Equity, via Eli Lilly and Company, increasing behavioral health programs available at the clinic by providing services using telepsychiatry and adding social workers and community health workers to the team, thus doubling the current capacity to provide services to patients with behavioral health needs.

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