Refugee Artisan Initiative and Providence Swedish grow our unique partnership

October 30, 2023 Swedish Communications

Swedish supports RAI's Scrubs 4 Good program, an initiative that helps provide a sustainable and stable economic path for immigrant and refugee women.

It wasn’t unusual for Swedish caregivers to struggle in the search for quality scrubs; and the supply-chain crisis coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic made a bad situation worse. A hopeful path forward was forged when Swedish partnered with the Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI), a non-profit founded in 2017 by Ming-Ming Tung-Edelman, to make custom scrubs for Swedish caregivers.

RAI was born out of the mission to help refugee and immigrant women use the skills they already possessed by connecting them with artisan jobs in their new home country. RAI’s textile artists had been making masks since early in the COVID-19 pandemic, and creating custom-fit scrubs for caregivers was a natural transition for the organization.  

The Swedish partnership with RAI began when Tung-Edelman applied to Swedish’s Community Investment Funding Grant as a resource to help train artisans and provide them with the training and tools to create high quality scrubs, calling the initiative Scrubs 4 Good. The first sets of custom-fit scrubs were delivered to caregivers in the spring of 2021.  

Common goals 

One goal of Swedish’s community investment grant is to support organizations working to improve the health and well-being of our communities.  

The Scrubs 4 Good program works to provide a sustainable and stable economic path for immigrant and refugee women by making sure they have the correct sewing machines and tools to be successful while allowing them to work from their homes, so they can care for their families. RAI works to help its members overcome barriers to success, including language barriers, unreliable transportation, and childcare needs.  

The wellbeing of their artisans is so important to RAI that they have been certified by the NEST Ethical Handcraft Program, a non-profit organization that supports the care of artists around the world to promote gender equity and economic inclusion.  

“The most important thing is a sustainable pathway created for women. Scrubs are needed, and they will continue to be needed,” says Tung-Edelman. “This is a great way for women to provide for their families while being able to work from home. We can help them overcome barriers and create a sustainable pathway.” 

What’s next?  

In the past two years, RAI has taken steps to scale up production of scrubs and provide more Providence Swedish caregivers with custom-fit scrubs. This fall, RAI will become an official vendor for Providence Swedish facilities in the Puget Sound region, and these scrubs will be offered for sale on The Sourcing Group website portal.  

All Scrubs 4 Good are made to order, starting with cutting the fabric in-house, sending out for sewing to their home-based artisans, and completed with personalized embroidery, finishing, quality control, and shipping.  RAI has recently been able to purchase an embroidery machine so that the scrubs they make can be produced completely in-house.  

Earlier this summer, a raffle was held for caregivers to win one of 14 sets of scrubs donated to Providence Swedish by Scrubs 4 Good.  Caregivers were thrilled with the fit, comfort and quality.  

The hope for RAI is that producing more scrubs for Providence Swedish caregivers will allow the organization to hire more artisans. RAI currently has a waiting list of some 80 women who are hoping to join the ranks of artisans creating Scrubs 4 Good and other handcrafted items.  

The special partnership between RAI and Providence Swedish continues to be a win-win for both organizations and continues to grow. 

About Providence Swedish

Providence Swedish has served the Puget Sound region since the first Providence hospital opened in Seattle in 1877 and the first Swedish hospital opened in 1910. The two organizations affiliated in 2012 and today comprise the largest health care delivery system in Western Washington, with 22,000 caregivers, eight hospitals and 244 clinics. A not-for-profit family of organizations, Providence Swedish provides more than $406 million in community benefit in the Puget Sound Region each year. The health system offers a comprehensive range of services and specialty and subspecialty care in a number of clinical areas, including cancer care, cardiovascular health, neurosciences, orthopedics, digestive health and women’s and children’s care. 


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