Providing primary care and mental health services to Seattle’s refugee and immigrant communities
Dr. J. Carey Jackson, professor (General Internal Medicine) has retired after 30 years as the International Medicine Clinic's Medical Director, having co-founded the clinic in 1992.
International Medicine Clinic
Washington was the 2nd largest refugee-receiving state in 2019 and about half of Washington’s refugees resettled in King County according to a 2021 report from the state Department of Social and Health Services.
Between 2016-2020, 23.7% of King County’s population was born abroad.
The International Medicine Clinic receives more than 12,000 visits a year, and centers its care philosophy around providing culturally informed medical care tailored to the needs of refugee and immigrant communities. Many visits are conducted in the patient’s native language through Harborview’s Interpreter Services program, which offers medical interpretation in nearly 80 languages and dialects.
The clinic provides a variety of health screenings and internal medicine and mental health services, as well as incorporates trauma-informed care and cultural health practices such as acupuncture, and homeopathic remedies into individualized treatment plans.
To reduce some of the barriers immigrant communities may face accessing the healthcare system, the IMC operates the Community House Calls (CHC) program in which caseworkers and cultural mediators work with patients to find a doctor, help arrange transportation and medical coverage, and coordinate home visits by physicians and nursing staff. The CHC program also helps the healthcare team understand the cultural norms and home lives of their patients as to inform their care plans.
In close connection with the IMC and CHC programs, the EthnoMed.org website was launched in 1994 to disseminate information for other health care professionals on “cross-cultural medicine”, integrating social and cultural context into medical care for immigrant and refugee communities.
“Cross-cultural medicine then, is 'de-positioning oneself' and seeing that both the position of the provider and that of the patient often have different social and cultural contexts.” – ethnomed.org
Created by Jackson, Dr. Tao Kwan-Gett (clinical professor, Health Systems and Population Health), Dr. Elinor Graham (associate professor, Pediatrics), librarian Ellen Howard and Ann Marchand, EthnoMed’s resources are based on experiences and research through clinical encounters conducted at the IMC and CHC and as such are rooted in Seattle’s unique population.
Dr. Jackson's Impact
In addition to the International Medicine Clinic, Community House Calls Program and EthnoMed.org, Jackson also founded the Northwest Health and Human Rights Coalition to help support the health and well-being of torture survivors. The coalition consists of a partnership between the IMC, mental health service providers Refugees Northwest, and legal services provided by Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.
Jackson received his MPH degree from the University of Hawaii, and his MD and subsequent MA in anthropology from Michigan State University.
He came to the UW in 1990 for residency in Preventive Medicine following his Internal Medicine residency at UC Irvine Medical Center. His clinical practice and research has focused on health disparities among immigrant and refugee communities, including tuberculosis, hepatitis B, and cervical cancer.
He is an Affiliate Investigator at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and an Adjunct Professor of Global Health.