TMA Foundation Awards Group That Helps Refugees Get Health Care

Feb. 13, 2014

Austin program named secondary award honoree for the 2014 John P. McGovern Champion of Health Award by the Texas Medical Association Foundation

The Texas Medical Association Foundation (TMAF) presented its 2014 John P. McGovern Champion of Health Secondary Award to Refugee Services of Texas’ (RST’s) Medical Case Management (MCM) program of Austin. The TMAF award recognizes exceptional projects that address urgent public health threats and further TMAF’s mission to help physicians create a healthier future for all Texans.

Founded in 1978 in Dallas, RST is a not-for-profit social service agency that helps address the health, social, housing and other needs of refugees. RST’s Austin program assists approximately 400 refugees each year by providing culturally competent services in seven distinct areas including MCM within the first 90 days of a refugee’s arrival.  RST’s MCM program provides intensive case management to help refugee patients with complex medical needs receive quality health care. RST also educates and empowers the patients to manage their care independently. The program addresses the top three barriers most refugees face — language, transportation, and literacy. Patients are partnered with a medical case manager who is present at appointments and helps aid patient-physician communication, resulting in better health outcomes and making preventive versus reactive care a possibility.

In addition to meeting the immediate health care needs of 40 patients per year, RST provides refugees temporary cash assistance and housing, transportation to appointments, and needed surgeries, including plastic surgeries for reconstruction due to violence they have suffered. They also receive assistance with special education as well as support securing health insurance coverage and navigating public assistance programs.

“Thanks to this award, more medically needy refugee individuals and families will receive culturally appropriate services. It would be difficult to expand our reach without the support of the Texas Medical Association Foundation, so we are excited to be in a position to do so,” remarked Erica Schmidt-Portnoy, Area Director, Refugee Services of Texas, Austin.

TMAF Champion of Health Award secondary honorees receive $2,500. The award is named after John P. McGovern, MD, a philanthropist, scholar, and noted allergist who founded the John P. McGovern Foundation in Houston. Dr. McGovern established a permanent endowment at TMAF, which supports this award.

TMA is the largest state medical society in the nation, representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members. It is located in Austin and has 112 component county medical societies around the state. TMA’s key objective since 1853 is to improve the health of all Texans. TMA Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the association and raises funds to support the public health and science priority initiatives of TMA and the family of medicine. 


Contact: Pam Udall
phone: (512) 370-1382
cell: (512) 413-6807

Brent Annear
phone: (512) 370-1381
cell: (512) 656-7320

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Last Updated On

July 06, 2016

Originally Published On

February 13, 2014

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