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About the Immigrant Health Service

  • The immigrant health service includes a weekly outpatient clinic (Mondays 13:00 - 17:00 at desk A5), patient consultations, education for service providers and work in policy development. The service is supported by the Victorian Government Department of Health (DH), including support for the refugee health fellows program. Due to COVID-19, we are using telehealth/phone appointments flexibly - to minimise transport and where this is family preference. We still provide a comprehensive approach to physical and mental health for children and young people who arrived as refugees or seeking asylum, and we are also seeing patients for direct review where needed. All interpreting is now via telehealth. 

    All children within a family can be seen at the same visit to minimise trips to the hospital. In addition, every attempt is made to combine appointments for other services (such as eye review and audiology) with clinic times. A detailed summary is provided for the referring doctor with an ongoing plan for management; families receive a copy of this letter. The service is free of charge for all refugee and asylum seeker children. 

    • Combined medical and mental health care, multidisciplinary assessment service - the service can provide medical and education/developmental assessment/care, mental health/psychiatry assessment/care, oral health assessment and health promotion, catch-up vaccinations, Mantoux testing and administration of Vitamin D as needed. Post-arrival health screening and age assessment can also be provided where required.
    • Staff - include 4 consultant paediatricians, 3 fellows, a psychiatrist, paediatric mental health nurse, a psychologist, a clinic coordinator, and a dental therapist. Male and female clinicians are available, one of the clinicians is Farsi speaking. As well as expertise in child refugee health, staff have experience in general paediatrics, developmental paediatrics, autism assessment, forensic medicine, child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology, and paediatric mental health nursing. 
    • Other services - Pathology, radiology and pharmacy are available onsite, alongside all other hospital services. We have regular secondary mental health consultations, and we are also supported by a teacher from the RCH Education Institute.
    • Linked care - we have close links to primary health care providers, the Royal Dental Hospital and settlement/community organisations working in refugee health.  
    • Affiliated services are available in Footscray (CoHealth), Sunshine, Hoppers Crossing, Craigieburn, Darebin (Plenty Valley Community Health) and Ringwood (EACH) - please see contact details  for other paediatric refugee services.

    Refugee fellows

    In 2021 we have three part time refugee health fellows, Dr Jen Schaefer, Dr Jade Woon and Dr Eva Sudbury. The fellows can be contacted for advice or coordination on refugee.fellow@rch.org.au or 9345 5522, pager 7142  (Monday, Tuesday, Friday). 

    Referrals - key information

    Referrals should be clearly marked to Immigrant health clinic (attention Lillian Ingram) and can be sent through the normal  outpatient referrals process.  Please include the following information:

    • Reason for referral
    • Accurate contact details, case worker details where possible, all languages spoken (note dialect if relevant) and interpreter requirement
    • Medicare status and asylum seeker status
    • Any previous investigations - blood tests, radiology and other investigations - ideally including results, but a list of tests ordered and pathology service used is still helpful
    • Vaccinations
    • Medications
    • Offshore information and HAP ID number if known (offshore arrivals) OR any summaries if available (asylum seekers). IHMS assistance phone 02 9025 2891; Fax: +61 2 9086 9858 (previously 1800 725 518) is a useful source of information for people in Community Detention.

    Based on our clinical experience, we think the following always warrant paediatric review in refugee/asylum seeker patients (and should be referred to a paediatrician):

    • Age assessment/clarification of birthdate
    • All unaccompanied minors or orphan relative visa holders
    • Developmental delay or disability
    • Malnutrition - weight/BMI <5th centile for age
    • Complex medical issues
    • Offshore detention or prolonged immigration detention.

    Translated appointment reminder tools

    Caseworker resources

    Other

    Immigrant health resources. Updated Sep 2021. Contact georgia.paxton@rch.org.au