Global Health Made Local: Immigrants and Refugees in Philadelphia

Shikha Patel

Patel, Shikha
University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, Department of Preventive and Restorative Sciences, Division of Community Oral Health


HIAS Pennsylvania provides legal, resettlement, citizenship, and supportive services to immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers from all backgrounds who are resettling in Pennsylvania, in order to ensure their fair treatment and full integration into American society. HIAS Pennsylvania advocates for just and inclusive practices. HIAS Pennsylvania helps immigrants navigate the complexities of American society and its legal system. HIAS Pennsylvania’s work spans legal, social support, and citizenship services. HIAS Pennsylvania also advocates for immigrant issues and rights and educates the community about immigration.

Project Overview

The main goal of the project was to assess need for care in the immigrant and refugee population in Philadelphia especially when it comes to oral health care as a contributing factor to systemic disease. Another project was conducted by interviewing current HIAS staff in order to better understand the different roles for each department in HIAS Pennsylvania by conducting interviews. The goal of this project was to assess how each department plays a role in the refugee resettlement process as well as thinking of ways they could better serve them. The last project that was conducted was to assist HIAS PA in presenting potential public health initiatives to the Pennsylvania Department of Health that would address the impact of COVID immigrant communities in Philadelphia.


A dental health orientation was made to present to refugees. In addition, a document to be used for HIAS PA to be used for future staffing processes was made. There were also recommendations made to expand access to COVID-19 testing including non-traditional testing sites such as mobile testing sites and walk-up sites to decrease the challenges that refugees were facing during the pandemic.