North Texas Experiences Increase in Clinics Treating Mostly Uninsured, Undocumented Immigrants
Over the last 10 years, the Dallas area has experienced "a tenfold increase in the number" of health clinics that are treating the "growing numbers of people without health insurance, especially [undocumented] immigrants who are fearful to use government-affiliated clinics or hospitals," the Dallas Morning News reports. According to a Dallas County Medical Society association, there are more than 40 charity clinics in the area.
Many of the clinics are staffed by volunteers, including doctors, nurses, translators and social workers. Use of the clinics has increased to the point where some must "regularly turn away patients," the Morning News reports.
Connie Webster, community health director for the Dallas County Medical Society, said the growth of the clinics "really shows the alarming situation in our community of the uninsured growing." Texas leads the nation in the percentage of residents who are uninsured, the Morning News reports.
Some of the clinics are required to ask patients for Social Security numbers or other proof of residency, though many clinics' staff members say that treating patients regardless of legal status is the priority, according to the Morning News. Julia Grenier, a local nurse who runs a clinic at the Plano Day Labor Center, said that while county officials "want to make sure everyone we serve is documented ... they know darn well that some of our people aren't" (Solis, Dallas Morning News, 7/14).