Coronavirus

Covid-19 in Immigrant Communities

Being poor can be like treading water with the waterline right under your nose. The slightest ripple and you choke, a wave will submerge you. The novel coronavirus pandemic is a tsunami for those living in poverty. As the recent New York Times article illustrates, communities living in crowded conditions, with uncontrolled chronic diseases like diabetes and hypertension, marginalized by the lack of comprehensible health information, and mistrusting the current systems to treat them fairly will be disproportionately ravaged by Covid-19. We have seen this in the past with tuberculosis, HIV, and hepatitis B. But the novel coronavirus acts faster and in some cases more aggressively and so reveals disparities even more dramatically.

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Oromo youth

For the Health and Well-being of Immigrant Children

A statement from the Northwest Immigrant and Refugee Coalition

It is critical for those of us charged with the well-being of children and families to speak out for their protection, as we have been reminded this week by the zero-tolerance policy separating and detaining families. We are a Washington State coalition of health professionals and public health practitioners; whose mission is to advocate and care for immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. The forceful separation of children from parents and the recent relocation of some of these children and parents to Washington State makes this national crisis also a local concern.

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Immigrants Protesting

Patient Trust Threatened by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Co-Authors:
Maggie Cheng, Staff Attorney, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
Elizabeth E. Dawson-Hahn, MD MPH Attending Physician, Harborview Medical Center and Seattle Children’s Hospital.

The trust between physician and patient is a core tenant of the medical profession. By extension, trusting relationships with nurses,technicians, hospitals and clinics are where this relationship plays out. This trust is now threatened by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In a startling breach of precedent, ICE agents have begun to target clinics and hospitals to enforceimmigration policy. It is our opinion that these enforcement actions actively jeopardize patient care.

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Sign saying immigrants and refugees welcome

Anti-immigrant Sentiments Affect Immigrant Health

The rhetoric around immigration has again reached a fever pitch. It did after 9/11, it has repeatedly, and it has again. Migrant children fleeing intolerable gang and domestic violence in Central America have crowded the Southern border. Refugees fleeing Syria are swarming over Eastern Europe and a chronic flow of migrants from East Africa stream north and cross the Mediterranean in precarious flotillas. The West feels under siege and frightened. There are many with distinct political agendas that capitalize on this fear and propagate unwarranted anxiety for their own ends. We see this in national political debates and we see it daily in local politics.

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Sign saying "We are not criminals, we are hard workers"

Profiling Populations and Health Disparities

“There it was: AIDS as the litmus test for nurses and physicians, a means of identifying who would and who wouldn’t. I had seen this before in Boston…..

“So,” I asked, “is this kind of stuff still going on now, with Gordon?”

“Hell yes! Except they know who is and who is not willing to take care of a patient like Gordon. I am willing. Mary is willing. And quite a few others. But I don’t think they should take advantage of us for that reason. It’s convenient for them. Because if they bitch and moan and if they don’t take care of the patient right, then I feel like I have to step in. I can’t let that happen.”

Verghese, Abraham. My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story. Vintage, 1995.

Through this exchange with a nurse, Abraham Verghese recalls attitudes in the 1980s among medical staff engaged in the care of the first HIV patients in rural Tennessee. His remarkable memoir of his years as an Infectious Disease specialist during the early days of HIV recapturesthe palpable possibility that contamination with HIV was a death sentence faced by many in operating rooms and on medical wards, a belief held by some among medical professionals and civic leaders. In repeated vignettes Vergesse describes how these attitudes affected the resources and care gay men received.

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