To avoid deportation, Hahnemann international residents scramble to find new places to work

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Hahnemann University Hospital's impending closure could have serious consequences for some medical students who planned on completing their residency there, and the fate of dozens of residents with J-1 Visas was uncertain until a Philadelphia nonprofit stepped in to help. 

For the last three years, Dr. Rayhan Tariq, one of nearly 60 residents who worked at Hahnemann on a J-1 Visa, has worked as an anesthesiology resident there.

"It has a very rich history. It was the second oldest anesthesiology residency program in the country, home to some of the remarkable anesthesiology research," Tariq explained. 

"The idea of the visa is to train physicians specific skills that are lacking in their home country, and they can take the knowledge back," he added. 

That means when Hahnemann closed, Tariq and those other residents ran the risk of being deported if they did not find a new job.

"When it happened, it was kind of very sudden and a little bit traumatic," he said. 

When news of the hospital's closure got out, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, which works with the residents to get them the right visas, worked with other organizations to make sure all the residents were placed and that no one would be deported.

"These last couple of months with Hahnemann have been very interesting, and different from anything we've experienced before. It was difficult," said Tracy Wallowicz, who works with the group. 

The nonprofit even went a step further when helping the residents. 

"We did things like set up a fund internally for the J-1 physicians to cover some of their moving expenses," she said. 

Wallowicz said about a quarter of their residents had to move out of state, but all of them found new residencies.

Tariq will be able to finish the rest of his residency at Thomas Jefferson University before he returns to Pakistan.