Thursday, June 10, 2010


If obtaining healthcare is difficult for America's citizens, imagine how it must be for those who are here from another country. Living in a border state, I knew I would be seeing patients who are in this country illegally. What I did not realize one year ago, is how many of these patients I would see, how sick most of them are, and the fact that their diversity is no different than that of other populations. Here are some examples:

Recently I delivered a premature infant to a couple who have been as attentive to this baby and their other two children as any parents I have ever seen. The baby is a little girl. Her brothers are 8 and 14 years old. Both parents were employed at the time labor began, the mom with a cleaning service, the dad in construction. The father of the baby apologizes every time he sees me that he is not present more but there are two days during the week where the pediatricians tell me he is always there with his family. Both of the brothers are clean, bright, and polite to everyone. Always well behaved, they seem to do as they are told and wait patiently for their parents to speak with the physicians.

A few nights ago I admitted a lady who is about my age. Her adult daughter was with her to translate. This woman does not speak any English but through the daughter I find out that she has been in two other hospitals in our city. I am sure one reason she has not received follow up for her medical condition is fear of deportation. I am also sure the reason she does not go back to her own country for treatment is the fact that she may not be able to re-enter this one. Her family is here and they are natural born citizens.

A 17 year old I have been seeing for two months delivered her baby a few days ago. He has a heart problem. The baby will need specialized treatment for sometime. This young mother is a candidate for Medicaid, as is the baby but it remains to be seen if they will get it. I have helped her fill out all the required paper work - twice. She has had minimal schooling. She is a citizen. Her parents are not. The father of the baby, who is 20, seems to be her support system. He has money to spend but no steady job. This concerns me. She needs contraception. The baby is going to need a great deal of care.

This is the very tip of an iceberg. I do not know how the social workers do this work. My work at least is interspersed with the working poor, many of whom get social services such as Medicaid and WIC. There are also the women who left their midwives to get pain medication during labor, and patients just like the ones I use to see in private practice. These women have health insurance, jobs, and families. They are simply at the big hospital due to complications with their pregnany or problems with their baby.
AliensSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

No comments: