California Clinic to Study Immigrants’ Barriers to Health Care
A National City, Calif., clinic that treats primarily indigent and illegal immigrants has received a grant that it will use to study ways to improve immigrant families' access to health care, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Operation Samahan, which also runs a clinic in Mira Mesa, Calif., was founded in 1973 with the goal of treating senior Filipino-Americans, but the clinic's mission has expanded to "promote better health and living conditions for the indigent, low-income, uninsured and underserved." The clinic treats more than 15,000 patients each year and allows undocumented immigrant patients to pay on a "low-cost, sliding-scale" with "no questions asked." Samahan's physicians, however, believe that "there are thousands more who need medical care but don't know where to get it," including illegal immigrants who fear deportation if they come to the clinic. Language barriers and a lack of money also discourage some immigrants from seeking treatment, as many do not speak English or have no experience obtaining treatment and are "confused by the U.S. health care system." To find potential solutions to access problems, Samahan will use a $100,000 grant from Johnson & Johnson to fund a survey of immigrant families about obstacles they face in accessing health care. Samahan received the grant as part of the Community Health Care Crystal Award, which Johnson & Johnson gives to organizations that help "medically underserved people throughout the United States and Puerto Rico." The goal of the survey is to interview 1,000 people at health fairs, health education classes, seminars and the clinic on issues including immunizations, mammograms and pap smears, as well as "difficult" topics like domestic violence, depression and sexually transmitted diseases. Program Coordinator Fe Seligman said the clinic will "track who needs what services" through a newly created database. "We want to make sure people really get the services they need," Seligman added (Ensor, San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.