BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As local leaders and politicians assign blame and call for immediate action on housing asylum seekers in Western New York, a New York City-based mobile health company is facing questions over its role in the issue.

DocGo is responsible for transporting asylum seekers who are in New York City and working with municipalities across the state to find them housing.

Dr. Myron Glick, founder and CEO of Jericho Road Community Health Center, which has provided care for asylum seekers locally, told News 4 that working with a New York City-based agency has had its challenges.

“They’re stepping into a void and they’re trying to do the best they can,” Glick said. “But the reality is that they don’t really understand asylum seeker resettlement. They don’t have a wealth of experience working in these situations.”

DocGo was founded in 2016 and credits itself as one of the largest mobile health providers in the United States. The agency was previously known as Rapid Reliable Testing and provided COVID-19 testing and vaccines.

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down, the company then pivoted. According to its 2022 annual report, DocGo now provides medical assessment, treatment, vaccinations and medical transportation to those seeking refuge.

Glick said that a better approach, one prioritizing experience with asylum seekers, needs to be taken by authorities.

“We need to have a better, more coordinated, holistic system that relies on the people who have the most experience, and the support needs to be there from the federal government all the way down,” Glick said.

A DocGo spokesperson issued the following statement to News 4:

“Facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in New York State, DocGo remains unwavering in providing comprehensive services to asylum seekers, ranging from medical care, social work, case work, and daily essentials including meals and laundry. Collaborating closely with New York City and local officials, we engage with community-based organizations and prioritize local vendors, including those minority-, woman-, and veteran-owned, to ensure seamless care. Our senior leadership actively connects with local entities to foster understanding and enhance service delivery. While we transparently share non-sensitive data about our guests with local stakeholders, the strict adherence to HIPAA and privacy laws ensures the utmost protection of our asylum seekers, many of whom are fleeing severe persecution.” 

DocGo spokesperson

This past week, two separate cases of sexual assault charges involving asylum seekers have prompted pointed responses from local politicians on both sides of the aisle. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says New York City officials have agreed not to send any more asylum seekers to Western New York. The National Guard is expected to arrive this week to assist with logistics.

NY-23 Congressman and former New York Republican State Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy has been outspoken on the issue, calling for immediate action on what he calls health and safety risks and blaming the policies of President Biden and Albany Democrats in a press conference Monday morning.

“We’re the product of legal immigration, and it is what makes this country great. But we are also a nation of laws and law and order,” Langworthy said. “Law and order needs to be celebrated and conducted every single day.”

Congressman Brian Higgins, a Democrat who serves New York’s 26th congressional district, says the federal government “has to step up and take greater responsibility.”

“The current situation places an unfair burden on communities,” Higgins said. “For generations people have come to this country, fleeing violence and persecution in desperate search of the liberties some take for granted: safety, freedom, and opportunity. Politicizing human beings is not the answer. Ultimately, Congress needs to work collaboratively to find real solutions through comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform.” 

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Sarah Minkewicz is an Emmy-nominated reporter and Buffalo native who has been a part of the News 4 team since 2019. Follow Sarah on Twitter @SarahMinkewicz and click here to see more of her work.