• OAK Street Initiative

OAK Street Spotlight- The Libertas Center for Human Rights

Each month, OAK Street Initiative is pleased to highlight an organization whose mission and work aligns with the values and principles of OSI.

This month, OSI shines the spotlight on The Libertas Center for Human Rights, an organization that provides direct services to survivors of torture, trauma and human rights violations. Libertas, located at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, NY, also trains healthcare professionals to appropriately identify and care for torture survivors, conducts research, and advocates for policy changes to address survivors’ needs. The organization and its staff have been recognized for their specialized care and humanitarian efforts.

Founded in 2006 by emergency physicians, Libertas’s vision is that “survivors of torture and human rights violations in the New York City area lead healthy, confident, and hopeful lives” and its mission is to provide survivors “with comprehensive medical, mental health, social and legal services to help them regain function and restore humanity in their lives.”

The organization’s work extends well beyond New York City as Libertas has trained 1000s of medical and cross-discipline providers on best practices in caring for torture survivors. Using a strength’s-based, culturally sensitive, holistic treatment approach as well as outreach, advocacy and education, Libertas strives to improve well-being and quality of life for torture survivors.

Libertas Center for Human Rights Director, Dr. Dinali Fernando, has secured more than $5million dollars in grant funding to grow the program and expand services to survivors.

Dinali Fernando, MD, MPH, FACEP

88% of clients report improved life overall six months after receiving services.

“Libertas is a shining example of how healthcare should really be about more than treating just the physical wounds of a patient. As a physician I know how important it is to recognize potential signs of trauma or torture when a patient presents in my emergency room. The work of Libertas is critical in providing comprehensive, trauma-focused training for clinicians as well as the non-medical team that surrounds us, like social workers and legal advocates. Just as critical though, is that the work of Libertas is culturally sensitive. It is important to treat patient’s physical wounds, but we also have to honor an immigrant's journey and the current challenges and barriers they might be facing, including physical and mental health, financial and legal challenges and overall well being.”

Dr. Kevin Baumlin, MD

Co-Founder OAK Street Initiative

For more information on

The Libertas Center for Human Rights visit libertascenter.net

Images courtesy: The Libertas Center for Human Rights

Opinions expressed in this article do not represent those of the University of Pennsylvania Health System or the Perelman School of Medicine.

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