The Trump administration’s executive order on refugees may create some serious stumbling blocks for U.S. medical centers, potentially preventing international doctors from returning to their jobs or saddling those attempting to come to the U.S. for treatment with another problem.
The executive order temporarily halting immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries with ties to terrorism could affect a significant number of doctors, patients and employees at some of the top hospital systems in the country. Mayo Clinic has close to 80 doctors, scholars and other employees with connections to the countries included in the order — Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, Axios reports.
More than just doctors could be affected — Mayo also said that 20 patients could be impacted by the halt on immigration, according to Axios, and they’re not alone. Johns Hopkins and Cleveland Clinic, which are regularly ranked among the top four hospitals in the country along with Mayo Clinic, have also said that their patients and employees may be affected.
Johns Hopkins has 11 patients from the countries in question who are scheduled to come to the U.S. for treatment in the next 90 days, according to STAT News, while Cleveland Clinic adds another nine to the list.
Pamela Paulk, president of Johns Hopkins Medicine International, told STAT the patients in question don’t have many other options.
“It’s always health care they can’t get in their country,” Paulk said. “They’re just not able to do the same things we can do in the U.S. The very difficult cases end up getting referred, and many of them are referred to us.”
In 2010, 27 percent of medical doctors and surgeons were foreign-born, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Immigrants with H-1B visas account for a large number of skilled health professionals in the U.S. STAT News found that in 2014, over 15,000 health care workers, almost half doctors, received H1-B visas. (RELATED: Trump Readies Crackdown On H1-B Visa Abuse By Executive Order)
Some health care workers have already encountered problems. Dr. Suha Abushamma, a 26 year-old internal resident at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, was refused entry into the U.S. just days after the Trump administration issued the order. Abushamma holds a passport from Sudan, one of the countries on the list, and lived in Saudi Arabia before obtaining a visa to work at the Ohio hospital. When attempting to return to the U.S. from a trip to Saudi Arabia this week, she was stopped in New York and ultimately returned to Saudi Arabia.
Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil told Cleveland.com that two other residents at the hospital had been visiting Iran, another country included in the order, and returned on Saturday. Both were reportedly stopped and detained by federal officials in New York upon entering the country, but eventually released.
Despite the difficulties, there may be room for medical centers to work with the Trump administration to get their patients and employees into the U.S. The executive order allows for the secretaries of state and Homeland Security to decide on a case-by-case basis whether individuals will be allowed entry into the country while the temporary ban is in place.
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