NM Department of Health launches medical mobile unit for asylum seekers
March 13, 2019 10:32 PM
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — The New Mexico Health Department has launched a van equipped with an exam room to go to the 12 different shelters and churches housing migrant families.
The families entered the country as asylum seekers, were detained, but are now in transit to stay with a sponsor until their asylum claims can be heard in federal court.
"It's no surprise to any of us that the migrant numbers crossing the border — seeking asylum — is increasing," said Deputy Health Secretary Abinash Achrekar, M.D. "That increased number is coming into New Mexico, into Las Cruces, into our shelters."
Since November, hospitals all around southern New Mexico have provided refugees with medical help, but there is only so much room in their facilities.
"We have a limited healthcare system in all of New Mexico, but specifically here in our southern facilities," Achrekar said. "We don't want our local clinics, our local emergency rooms, urgent cares to be overwhelmed."
Freida Adams is a registered nurse working with the migrants. She says they need basic care after walking hundreds of miles.
"We see signs of dehydration, hunger — they've gone six weeks, two months, without a good meal," Adams said.
If the mobile exam room works for the migrants in Las Cruces, the program may expand into other communities, including Albuquerque.
"They are so thankful to have a warm welcome inside and see someone who cares," Adams said. "What we give them is so simple. The biggest thing we give them is a smile and a hug."
The cost of the program is minimal. All of the medicine is donated and the doctors and nurses providing the checkups are volunteering their time.
Updated: March 13, 2019 10:32 PM
Created: March 13, 2019 07:39 PM
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