The choice these immigrants face is to either stay in the US and receive limited emergency medical treatment, or return to their home country and spend their last days with family members who they may not have seen for decades.
Because undocumented immigrants are not covered by Medicaid, they cannot regularly access palliative care and hospice care if they stay in America. Also, information and support services are often not available in their home language.
Occasionally places can be found for undocumented patients in American hospices which provide charitable care, and sometimes palliative care teams are able to send dying patients back to their home countries, but more often for them terminal illness is ‘a revolving door’ of emergency room visits for severe symptoms.
Ricardo Nuila, MD, of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas comments: “They are admitted from the emergency department with severe pain or organ failure. We stave off death well enough for them to be discharged, and very soon, they return – until the day they don’t.”
Read the full article, originally written in Spanish for La Opinion, on the New America Media website.