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Hospitals Experience Influx Of Immigrants Seeking Emergency Care

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The New York Times on Sunday profiled Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut, which saw an influx of undocumented immigrants seeking emergency care after a nearby community hospital closed in 2005. According to the Times, hospitals "across New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut all report struggling with the costs of delivering emergency care and sometimes more" to undocumented immigrants and other uninsured patients, "and many see it as their obligation."

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Greenwich Hospital has worked to improve services for immigrants by hiring a medical translator who helps patients speak to physicians and nurses, and helps them apply for emergency Medicaid payments or develop a repayment schedule. The hospital also has organized health fairs to promote nutrition and preventive health. However, Lindsay Farrell -- president and CEO of Open Door Family Medical Center in Connecticut, which provides outpatient care to many immigrants -- said that Greenwich Hospital does little to address the lack of specialists willing to see low-income patients.

Jim Foy -- president of St. John's Riverside Hospital in Yonkers, N.Y. -- estimated that his hospital loses between $8 million and $10 million in uncompensated care annually -- of which an unquantifiable amount stems from immigrants -- but he said that treating sick patients could save money in the long run by preventing chronic diseases (Berger, New York Times, 10/12).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.