L.A. Doctors Commit to Care for Patients Not Legally Present

By EFE Services

Doctors in Los Angeles recently advised the public that county hospitals are sanctuaries for immigrants without legal status, where they will be protected, and urged them to leave behind the fear that many feel following the arrest of a sick girl from Mexico at a Texas medical center.

“Our hospital serves a large number of the immigrant population and at this time we want to reaffirm our message that we are here to care for them, treat them, and protect them, even from the immigration authorities,” pediatrician Jacob Bailey, a member of the LAC-USC Medical Center, told EFE.

Health workers in the county reaffirmed their commitment after the widely publicized arrest of a 10-year-old undocumented girl with cerebral paralysis who had undergone emergency surgery.

The minor, Rosa Maria Hernandez, was arrested last October by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents after undergoing surgery to remove her gallbladder in a hospital in Corpus Christi (Texas).

Her arrest, which lasted several days, generated a strong reaction among immigrant rights advocates and health workers who said that with these actions, immigration authorities are putting the health of immigrants, and/or of their children, at risk.

“We have to counteract the fear that was caused by the arrest of this girl; we want the community to feel safe enough to be able to come to the emergency room,” explained Maria Mates, a medical resident at LAC-USC.

Bailey lamented that the fear of encountering immigration authorities could create mental health problems for children, their parents and the community in general.

“As doctors, it is our duty to take care of the health of our society, and the arrest of a girl like Rosa Maria shows that we live in an unhealthy stage, and we must do something,” insisted Bailey.

The doctors and nurses also expressed support for the young people who benefit from the Deferred Action program (DACA) and are at risk of losing their work permits expires in March.

The doctors assured that they will continue to provide the medical services offered by the county, such as the Community Welfare Center of the LAC-USC Medical Center, which serves a large Latino population and low-income patients, regardless of immigration status.

A recent study from Stanford University on children and mothers protected by DACA, revealed that exposure to stress and adversity during childhood years, not only causes poor health and development problems in the short term, but may persist into adulthood.

“Mental health disorders during childhood are related to other challenges later on in life, such as problems in school, long-term health problems and lower incomes,” concluded Jens Hainmueller, one of the authors of the study.

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November 23, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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