Migrant population bears scars of healthcare shortcomings in home countries

LAREDO, Texas (Border Report) ⁠— Working on the border with Mexico, Dr. Rene G. Jaso often sees health problems that are rare elsewhere in the United States.

That includes lingering infections that should’ve gone away with the proper treatment, wounds tended to by methods outdated by today’s medical standards and damage to organs that timely screenings could’ve prevented.

Jaso, an emergency room attending physician in Laredo, primarily sees this in the immigrant population, which he says constitutes between 25 and 30 percent of the patients he treats. Those patients show up with health problems that began to develop before the migrant arrives in the United States.

“We see bowel obstruction, we see bleeding, end-stage liver disease that would have been intervened earlier in our system here,” Jaso said.

Another trend is migrants self-medicating without physician oversight, which leads to complications.

Jaso is a contract surgeon delivering care in a region where a lot of migrants pass through and where many stay to call Laredo home. He attributes some of their issues to insufficient care received in their home countries.

“You see things that are being done that predate what is being done stateside; procedures done several years ago that we don’t do in the United States,” he said. “Mexico has some fine physicians, including just south of us, but the availability of resources seems to be limited.”

By that he means the migrant sought treatment at a hospital that was affordable to him or her, but the facility lacked an experienced physician or was forced to stop treatment after running out of money.

Faced with such lingering health issues, the migrant ends up coming to a U.S. hospital once he or she is on this side of the border.

“Here in the U.S., medicine is readily available to anybody. Emergency rooms provide care irrespective financial resources. No questions are asked here, people will be taken care of. That’s true of citizens, immigrants or anyone else,” he said.

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