The implications of a recent executive order temporarily barring entry into the U.S. by citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries are grave and unsettling for BWH staff and patients alike, said Brigham Health President Betsy Nabel, MD.
“Fostering a diverse and inclusive community is imperative to our mission. The exclusion of any group of people strikes at the heart of all we value as an academic medical center and violates the values on which this great institution was founded,” Nabel said. “I will do everything in my power to ensure that those who seek to access the Brigham for care – or in support of our precious mission – have the opportunity to do so.”
At least three researchers planning to start new jobs at the Brigham were among those unable to come to Boston following the action. The researchers, all citizens of Iran, held valid visas clearing them to work at BWH.
Over the past week, Nabel has been working closely with senior leaders at Partners HealthCare, Harvard Medical School, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office, the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Conference of Boston Teaching Hospitals to address the situation. A number of resources are available for BWH staff in need of support.
“The Brigham is a global institution. Each year, we welcome thousands from around the world, many of whom are seeking care from our talented and diverse care teams,” she said. “We are privileged to train a broad range of health care personnel from many countries and collaborate with scientists whose input enables discoveries that give new hope to patients locally and globally. We are actively exploring ways to ensure that the needs of all who wish to come here are met.”
Among those whose visas were suspended was Seyed Soheil Saeedi Saravi, a postdoctoral researcher who planned to join the lab of Thomas Michel, MD, PhD, of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, to study diabetes. Samira Asgari, barred from boarding a flight from Germany to the U.S. on Jan. 28, had recently accepted a fellowship at BWH to study tuberculosis in the lab of Soumya Raychaudhuri, MD, PhD, of the Division of Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology. A third researcher, Ameneh Asgari-Targhi, was prevented from boarding a flight in London and starting her postdoctoral research fellowship in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders.
“This executive order has broad consequences for American biomedical science,” Michel said. “This country and this city have a long history of providing research training to the best young scientists in the world, many of whom have stayed in the United States and made tremendous contributions in biomedicine and other disciplines.”
Employees will be kept apprised of updates in this evolving situation as new information becomes available.
Resources for BWH Staff
- Partners Office for International Professionals and Students (PIPS):
email@example.com or 617-726-9211
- Research-related questions or concerns: Paul Anderson, MD, PhD, chief academic officer and senior vice president of Research, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Employee Assistance Program: 866-724-4EAP
- Human Resources: 617-582-0100
- Spiritual Care: email@example.com or 617-732-7480
- Security (concerns about safety): 617-732-6565
- Communication & Public Affairs: 617-525-6370 (weekends/after hours: 617-732-6660, pager 13160)
- Staff who plan to travel outside the U.S. for hospital business can enroll in Partners TravelSafe, a travel information and emergency assistance program for employees: +1-443-965-9242 or firstname.lastname@example.org