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Spreading holiday cheer to newly relocated Afghan community

Written By: Simone Sonnier, UT Physicians | Updated: December 22, 2021
HTI group photo

The Healthcare Transformation Initiatives team and leadership from UT Physicians gathered to create care packages for Afghan refugees who have recently settled in Houston. (Photo by Alyssa Duty, UT Physicians)

Each year during the holiday season, the Healthcare Transformation Initiatives (HTI) team at UT Physicians gathers to support a worthy cause. The goal — to bring joy and hope to those in need in our community.

This year’s cause focused on relocated Afghan refugees who have settled in the Greater Houston area. In collaboration with the Alliance, a local resettlement agency, and Amaanah Refugee Services, a nonprofit organization that provides support for refugees, HTI arranged for families to receive much-needed health care services at UT Physicians.

However, Xochitl Olguin and Sahar Sarfaraz, HTI project managers, knew the help needed extended beyond health care. Under their guidance, the team decided to host a donation drive among all UTHealth Houston employees.

“Choosing these families as the recipients of our yearly donation drive flowed organically from the work we were doing to get the families seen at our clinics,” shared Olguin. “It made sense to help them as we had all seen the horrific images in August of the families fleeing Afghanistan.”

Many of these refugees, particularly those with young children, traveled to the United States with the clothes on their backs and nothing else. The drive focused on a list of needs selected with help by the Alliance and Amaanah Refugee Services. Simple items we may take for granted each day, like toothpaste, soap, or even jackets to keep warm, were a priority for families.

“Everyone on our team was eager to assist and came together to make sure the families had the items necessary to make this difficult transition in their lives a little easier,” said Sarfaraz.

On Wednesday, Dec. 8, HTI and other leaders from UT Physicians gathered to organize the donations and assemble boxes full of necessities. As a personal touch, each box included a handwritten note of encouragement from an employee.

“I am extremely proud of our team for the time and effort that went into making this event a huge success,” shared Sarfaraz. “We are very much looking forward to giving these items to the families.”

About HTI

UT Physicians is dedicated to patient quality and clinical effectiveness. The HTI department obtains funding and implements programs that increase quality and access to primary and specialty care, using a patient-centered approach.

Since its inception, more than 30 completed projects have helped make health care more affordable and accessible to southeast Texans, regardless of their insurance status or income level. Through various projects, UT Physicians patients have access to evening and weekend appointments, a 24/7 nurse triage phone line, care coordination, medication management, and integrated primary and behavioral health care. Wellness and health education programs are also available at no cost to the community.

As the clinical practice of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, UT Physicians has locations across the Greater Houston area to serve the community. To schedule an appointment, call 888-4UT-DOCS.