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SPECIAL REPORT: Migrant mothers

A special report on migrant mothers from 13 On Your Side's Laura Aronson

YUMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - For most pregnant women, they worry enough about the health of their baby but for migrants there are so many more challenges. That's where local agencies are stepping in to help.

Migrants continue making their way to the United States-Mexico border, crossing hundreds at a time. Many of these migrants are mothers.

I met Zulema, a mother of four who says it will be too difficult for her to make the journey.

The Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) estimates a net revenue loss of upwards of $2-4 million from December 2021 to April 2022 in migrant patient care.

$1.4 million dollars of that goes to migrant mothers and newborn care.

It's due to some of the health issues pregnant migrants commonly have when they're rushed to the hospital.

Dorie Rush, RN and Administrative Director of Women and Children’s Services, and Susan Pancrazi, Director of Case Management at YRMC explained the various complications.

"We have to run all of the tests and diagnostics on these patients we would've done over their 9 months of pregnancy so it is a very lengthy process," said Dorie Rush.

Amanda Aguirre, President & CEO of the Regional Center for Border Health (RCBH) is also responding to this emergency.

She says extreme heat impacts migrants.

"With temperatures 114 in our desert no matter where you are if you’re spending time walking it is very intense," stated Aguirre.

Working hand in hand with border patrol agents, she tells us, "A lot of the high-risk women border patrol has already sent to the hospital mostly for delivery when they're ready to be discharged is when they would notify us and we arrange transportation to get them to us."

Migrant mothers come from many different countries.

"At the Regional Center for Border Health we’re responding to this emergency to assist the migrant families asylum seekers, at the beginning of the surge we saw quite a lot of pregnant women particularly from Haiti and Cuba when that happened we alerted our OBGYNs and nurses working with migrant families as they’re traveling," explained Aguirre.

"We noted language barrier so we weren't able to communicate with these patients when they were coming in. Most of them were not Spanish, Haiti was primarily the obstetrical population, Venezuela, Cuban, Columbian, Russian, etc.," stated Dorie Rush and Susan Pancrazi.

Properly discharging these migrant patients can be extremely challenging, YRMC even has to use portions of labor and delivery like hotel rooms.

Post-natal care of migrant families can often include providing car seats.

The Yuma County Health Department was providing some of those and later on, the Governor's office began providing them to the hospital as well.

"Buying all the car seats in town to bring in here because we needed those car seats right away," said Dorie Rush.

RCBH also provides a kit for these migrants.

They’re being provided a package for prenatal care for the women including vitamins and the recommendation to seek prenatal care at their final destination.

Amanda Aguirre said they are also preparing for a potential surge of migrant families when Title 42 goes away to help the asylum seekers reach their final destination.

"After Title 42 goes away we’re working with several airports from Las Vegas, Los Angeles to San Deigo to not saturate Phoenix," to help the asylum seekers reach their final destination," stated Aguirre.

Article Topic Follows: Special Reports

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Laura Aronson

Laura Aronson is an anchor/producer who joined KYMA in February 2023. If you have any story ideas, you can email her at


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