Every day, families arrive at the US-Mexico border seeking asylum. After months and sometimes years of travel, they are weary. The children have seen too much in their few years of life. They often come from communities damaged by civil war and gang violence, ravaged by climate-fueled crises, and destabilized by deep poverty and political corruption.
While most of the children are healthy, some of the children who arrive at shelters after release from immigration custody have significant health issues that require extensive coordination and oftentimes urgent specialty care. In response, Migrant Clinicians Network and its partners developed a network of pediatric sub-specialists across the country to serve needs that cannot be met by a general pediatrician – the Specialty Care Access Network (SCAN).
Established in 2020, SCAN reduces the suffering of children and saves lives -- all through the help of a nationwide network of SCAN Champions and SCAN Members, volunteer specialists from academic medical centers and other pediatric care settings, who help coordinate specialty care for asylum-seeking children in their receiving communities. Karla Fredricks, MD, the founding SCAN Champion, worked with MCN to build this network of SCAN Champions and SCAN Members across the country.
First, SCAN establishes a new medical home for the child in their new community via MCN’s Health Network, our virtual case management program. The child’s family is assisted in finding a health center, transferring medical records, and scheduling appointments in primary care. But SCAN patients need additional services as well to meet their unique health needs, so SCAN patients are also linked into specialty care via the network of SCAN Champions, as close to their new community as possible.
Samuel*, whose family recently requested asylum at the US-Mexico border, is one child who was helped by SCAN. After his family was released from CBP custody, Samuel was seen by a medical provider and enrolled into Health Network because of his neurological condition. Samuel’s case was assigned to Luis, MCN’s SCAN Health Network Associate, who followed up with Samuel’s parents to let them know about the services of Health Network and SCAN. The family planned to move to the East Coast, where they had relatives. With a basic understanding of Samuel’s health concerns, Luis contacted a SCAN Champion in Samuel’s receiving community, who in turn connected Samuel directly to a local pediatric neurologist. Luis also assisted the family extensively using Health Network’s basic suite of tools, by helping the family create a medical home in the receiving community, choosing a new general health provider who speaks the family’s language, signing them up for sliding scale fees, and connecting them with a clinic social worker. He was also able to link them with local immigrant support systems. Within weeks of their arrival, Samuel had both a primary care doctor and an appointment with a pediatric neurologist, so his urgent condition could be quickly addressed and he could go back to living the life of a healthy child.
Parents of children like Samuel often struggle to access specialty care – navigating language and cultural barriers, poverty, lack of understanding of the US health system, transportation issues, migration, and more. Without SCAN, parents may forego the care the children need, which may result in dangerous and harder-to-treat complications or trips to the emergency room. With specialists acting as champions in locations across the country, SCAN jumpstarts their care and builds connections to help children get the critical care they need.
At the heart of SCAN are SCAN Champions, general practitioners and specialists throughout the United States with working relationships with specialists in their communities and beyond. When contacted by MCN’s Health Network, these SCAN Champions volunteer to help Health Network connect patients with the specialty care they need, often urgently, in their receiving communities.
SCAN Members volunteer to connect SCAN enrollees with specialty care in the receiving communities. Unlike SCAN Champions, SCAN Members are nurses, community health workers, advocates, or others who may not be able to directly serve the patients, but understand well the resources available in the receiving community in order to connect the patients.
SCAN has a two-part system to ensure that patients are well cared for in their receiving communities. SCAN Champions and SCAN Members find the specialty care that the patient needs – but the patient also will need a medical home, where the patient can get basic preventative and primary care. All SCAN patients are helped in finding this medical home through Health Network, MCN’s virtual bridge case management system. Learn about the basic services of Health Network at our Health Network webpage: http://www.migrantclinician.org/network.
Support Asylum-Seeking Children With Specialty Needs
SCAN is expanding into new towns, cities, and regions. Support these children by becoming a SCAN Champion or SCAN Member: contact Luis Retta at firstname.lastname@example.org. Help us grow our SCAN network -- make a donation to MCN’s Health Network.
*Names of patients and some identifying details have been changed or anonymized for the protection of the patients.
SCAN is a program of Health Network. Return to the main Health Network page here.