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Spike in undocumented immigrant hospital visits

YRMC treats over 1,000 undocumented immigrants in 2021 - 13 On Your Side's Arlette Yousif reports

YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - With the rising number of undocumented immigrants coming into the country through the Yuma sector, Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) has also seen a spike in the number of patients.

YRMC has treated over 1,000 undocumented immigrants throughout 2021 in addition to working through the pandemic.

Beginning in January, YRMC was seeing less than 50 undocumented immigrants a month. By April, that number rose to over 50… and has been consistent since.

"The summertime, we started to see the increase. We certainly saw a significant increase of about a hundred patients in the late part of this summer, every single month. And then in September, it was unusually high at like 175, almost 200 patients that were immigrants coming in for care. Most recently, we’ve seen it stick pretty much close to 100 patients a month," says Yuma Regional Medical Center Marketing and Communications Vice President Machele Headington.

While some undocumented immigrants were brought in by border patrol, about half of the people arrived at the hospital through other transportation such as taxis and even Uber.

"Our care team, both in the labor delivery and the emergency room area where they typically would present um, with, with health needs… they’re role is to care for any patient who comes in and they will continue to do that. And you know, there’s a human side to this as well, right? When you have another human being and if you’ve, as a care provider, people typically go into healthcare for this innate ability to really care for the human side of, of medical care," explains Headington.

As any patient arrives at the emergency room for care, it is not standard practice to ask someone for legal or immigration status. Once care is rendered, YRMC staff finds ways to get undocumented immigrants either back to border patrol for processing, or to the nearest relative.

"Many of these folks arrive at our hospital with very little or no resources, so when it’s time to discharge the patients, it’s [really] important at that time that we do what we can to connect them to resources so that we don’t have them back into the hospital again for things that could have been prevented," says Headington.

Headington says YRMC is a place for all in need of healthcare, and nd no one is turned away.

"Every person who presents to our doors is deserving of care and so we provide care to anyone who presents here," explains Headington.

YRMC says it receives financial assistance from Regional Center for Border Health (RCBH) on an as-needed basis for undocumented immigrants. The hospital has also seen an increase in the hospital taxi fund, which is used for all patients who need a ride after being discharged. The Arizona Department of Child Safety (AZDCS) has provided infant car seats to the hospital to help keep newborns safe during transportation to border patrol or family nearby.

YRMC works closely with border patrol to provide care to those in need.

After the new year, we will bring you the latest on the Joint Task Force Civil Support team's assessment and plan for future help that will be provided to YRMC.

Author Profile Photo

Arlette Yousif

Arlette Yousif joined KYMA in November 2020 as a Multi Media Journalist. She holds a BA in Journalism with a minor in Film.

You can reach out to Arlette for at arlette.yousif@kecytv.com.

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