Our low-threshold contact point provides medical and psychotherapeutic care and advice to individuals who have limited or no access to the state healthcare system.
Founded in 2016, the clinic relocated to larger premises in April 2017 and is now situated at Teltower Damm 8a, 14169 Berlin, in close proximity to S-Bhf Zehlendorf.
The establishment of the contact point was fully financed by donations from Medizin Hilft e.V., with a significant contribution from a joint donation from 11 Rotary Clubs across 4 countries (“Global Grant”) making it possible.
From 2016 until early 2022, the clinic was operated in cooperation with Ärzte der Welt e.V.. Since 2022, Medizin Hilft has been running the project in collaboration with milaa gGmbH, a subsidiary of the Evangelical Diakonieverein.
Despite the mandatory health insurance in Germany, numerous individuals either lack access or only have limited access to the healthcare system. Both those with restricted and full entitlement face various barriers that prevent them from asserting their claims within the conventional system. This includes individuals without legal residency status, people without health insurance, individuals in precarious social situations (homeless individuals, those with substance abuse issues, etc.), as well as asylum seekers.
Refugees accommodated in emergency shelters have a legal entitlement to a significant portion of healthcare services. However, substantial language and bureaucratic barriers persist, hindering their ability to access these services. In addition to providing medical care for refugees, including vaccinations and counseling, the primary focus of our work in accommodations is to integrate individuals into the regular healthcare system. Volunteer teams consisting of doctors, helpers, and interpreters, supported by the extensive network of Medizin Hilft e.V., facilitate the referral and potential accompaniment of patients to general or specialized medical care.
Since 2016, Medizin Hilft has been conducting outreach information sessions on various health topics in Berlin accommodations for refugees. These sessions, led by professionals with a background in health sciences or medicine, are conducted in the respective native languages using trained interpreters when needed. Additionally, Medizin Hilft supported the public health service in Steglitz Zehlendorf in developing a concept for public outreach aimed at low-threshold target groups.
Many refugees living in Germany suffer from acute mental health disorders such as trauma-related disorders, depression, chronic pain, or anxiety. Unfortunately, finding suitable psychotherapeutic help is particularly challenging for this group due to various reasons. Therefore, in our open clinic for people without health insurance, we offer free counseling sessions several times a week with the support of psychotherapists and psychiatrists. These sessions are accompanied by trained interpreters. The goal is to assess with the affected individuals and their families the type of support they need and initiate it within our capabilities. As mental health conditions often also manifest somatically, our medical and psychotherapeutic professionals work closely together.
The number of uninsured homeless women and men in Berlin has dramatically increased in recent years. We support the “Tee- und Wärmestube Neukölln” of the Diakoniewerk Simeon, which targets homeless and socially disadvantaged individuals with its services. We regularly provide outreach medical care through a team consisting of a nurse and a doctor on-site at the tea and warming room.
With this low-threshold mobile medical offering, we contribute to promoting the health of people who would otherwise be completely excluded from the regular healthcare system. Additionally, we funded a first aid cabinet equipped with medical supplies and assisted in the renovation of the sanitary area for women.
We offer informational materials and documents for free download in many languages. These resources are helpful for other initiatives to gain content knowledge and establish structures that are already established in our projects. Especially in 2015 and early 2016, during the emergency situation, we supported approximately 20 emergency shelters through donations of standardized medical equipment kits and the financing of urgently needed medications. During this time, we also connected volunteer doctors and nursing staff with numerous accommodations. We also provide general information on entitlements, billing, other legal frameworks, and healthcare information in German and foreign languages, along with prescription forms in foreign languages, for representatives of regular medical care such as clinics and medical practices.
In April 2021, volunteers from our organization vaccinated thousands of emergency responders of the Berlin Fire Department against the coronavirus. Even before the state took responsibility for initial examinations and vaccinations, our initiative, in cooperation with health authorities, conducted numerous vaccination campaigns in Berlin emergency shelters, including against measles. This was particularly crucial during the peak of the measles epidemic in 2015.
In the provision of medical and social services, we collect anonymized data to document gaps in care and advocate for the state to create conditions for medical care for all. Our advocacy work plays a central role in this effort.