April is National Minority Health Month, a time to learn about and fight health inequities for racial and ethnic minority populations. In California, low-income undocumented adults are cruelly locked out of Medi-Cal due to their immigration status. Exclusions from preventive and routine health care hurts our friends, families, and entire communities. This National Minority Health Month the California Immigrant Policy Center is partnering with the Health4All Coalition to raise the profile on the need for #Health4All, regardless of immigration status. Each week for the month of April, we will highlight a story profile below from an immigrant community member:

- - - April 6th - - -

Maria’s Story:

"My name is Maria. I come from San Diego, California. I am a volunteer with the Employee Rights Center and also a single mother. I have 3 children and an aging father who is sick. I wanted to share my experience and the experience of my family of not having health insurance.

Five years ago, I developed diabetes. My life changed completely because I had been very active and I had two jobs, but this disease completely impacted my household. My blood sugar was very high, I had migraines, my blood pressure spiked, and I suffered from chronic fatigue. I could not even work for a couple of hours because my body would not respond. I went into depression and anxiety as a result of a lot of stress, and due to the worry of not having health insurance.

The only option was go to the emergency hospital. I had to wait until the last moment and it was so exhausting and devastating that I sank into depression for months. There were days that I spent locked in my house. I was not able to take care of my little daughter who was six years old at the time, because I was not in good health. It is because of this experience that I found the Employee Rights Center office and started volunteering. It has taken much effort and a desire to move forward, and now I am supporting the Health4All campaign so that undocumented people may have health insurance. In many cases we are heads of household and our children and families depend on us.

Today I have an aging parent without health insurance who has gone through a recent heart surgery. He still has high blood pressure and is going through the same thing that happened to me: he has to wait until the last moment to go to the emergency room. He can not work because of his health condition and it causes him stress and every day his health deteriorates further.

I want to make sure we are heard and taken into account. We are human beings just like any other, and we deserve equal rights."



- - - April 11th - - -

Francisca's Story

Juana, a community member from the Central Coast, shared with us the story of her mother, Francisca:

"When I look at the food on my table, what I see is the labor of a fieldworker-- like my mother.

My mother Francisca is 43 years old and has worked in California for 18 years as a farmworker. She picks the fresh fruit and vegetables our community eats such as strawberries, raspberries, and tomatoes. She supports her 8-year-old daughter and her son who is studying to become an engineer. After nearly two decades of working in the fields, Francisca stopped working  because of a painful inflammation foot spur that continues to this day and does not get better.

My mother has been suffering in silence for 3 years with this pain because she is undocumented and has no health insurance.

This past December the pain became so severe that she could only walk on the tip of her foot. Soon, the pain got so intense she had to go to the Emergency Room. Because of this she is now unable to work.

My mother Francisca, and thousands like her, have picked the healthy food that makes it to the table of families across California. This type of constant pain is something many farmworkers experience, especially debilitating back pain. "

EN ESPAÑOL:

Juana, una miembra de la comunidad de la Costa Central, compartió la experiencia de su madre:

"Cuando miro la comida sobre la mesa, lo que veo es el trabajo de un trabajadora de campo-- como mi madre.

Mi madre Francisca tiene 43 años y ha trabajado en California durante 18 años como trabajadora agrícola. Ella recoge las frutas y verduras frescas que nuestra comunidad come, como fresas, frambuesas y tomates. Ella apoya a su hija de 8 años y ella es quien está estudiando para convertirse en ingeniero. Después de trabajar en los campos, Francisca dejó de trabajar debido a una inflamación dolorosa en el pie que sigue hasta hoy día y no mejora.

Mi madre ha estado sufriendo en silencio durante 3 años con este dolor porque no está documentada y no tiene seguro de salud.

El diciembre pasado se volvió tan grave que sólo podía caminar sobre la punta de su pie. Pronto, el dolor se volvió tan intenso que tuvo que ir a la sala de emergencias. Debido a esto, ella ya no puede trabajar.

Mi madre Francisca, y miles como ella, han recogido comida saludable que llega a las mesas de familias en todo California. Dolor constante es algo que muchos agricultores sienten, especialmente el dolor de espalda debilitante.

Si mi madre pudo haber recibido tratamiento para su dolor en el pie, ella pudo haber evitado esta condición intensa y es posible que haya podido continuar trabajando. Pero debido a que no está documentada, no puede usar Medi-Cal. Quiero compartir la historia de mi madre porque California debe eliminar una exclusión injusta para Medi-Cal basado en el estatus migratorio de los adultos."

- - - April 19th - - -

Ines's Story

Ines, a community member from Southern California, shared with us this powerful story:

"My name is Ines Gonzalez and I want to share the story of my close friend Juan. Juan came to the United States from Mexico in search of opportunity. He worked two jobs to support himself. He was undocumented and uninsured. Like many in our community, due to his status he was unable to receive a yearly check up.

Last Summer, Juan felt very ill. Since he did not have insurance, he went to a local cash-only clinic that diagnosed his pain as food poisoning. He continued to vomit for two weeks and ended up in the Emergency Room. The ER conducted x-rays and encouraged him to go back to his primary care doctor. He continued to vomit for a few days and ultimately went to an Urgent Care. At that location the doctor diagnosed his condition as stage four terminal stomach cancer. He died 1 week later.

Juan was only 27 years old when he passed away. I am sure you have sons or daughters, friends or coworkers who are 27. Even at that promising age, their life could be cut short if they are excluded from coverage. Think about Juan. And think about the the loss my family and I felt from his untimely passing. We need to remove immigration status as an eligibility exclusion to Medi-Cal for all adults, so that we can prevent another tragedy like Juan's from happening."

EN ESPAÑOL:

"Hola mi nombre es Ines y quiero compartir con ustedes la historia de mi amigo Juan. Juan vino a los Estados Unidos desde México en busca de oportunidades. El trabajó dos trabajos para mantenerse. Era indocumentado y no tenía seguro. Al igual que muchos de nuestra comunidad, debido a su estatus no pudo recibir un chequeo médico anual.

El verano pasado, Juan se sintió muy enfermo. Como él no tenía seguro, él fue a una clínica local del efectivo y diagnosticaron su dolor como virus de alimentación. Continuó vomitando durante dos semanas y terminó en la sala de emergencias. Salió y él continuó vomitando y finalmente fue a un cuidado urgente. Allí el doctor diagnosticó su condición como cáncer terminal del estómago. Murió una semana después.

Juan tenía sólo 27 años cuando falleció. Estoy seguro de que tienen hijos o hijas, amigos o colegas que tienen 27 años. Sin cobertura médica esas vidas están a riesgo. Piensa en Juan. Y pensar en la pérdida que mi familia y yo sentimos por el paso intemporal de Juan. Debemos eliminar el estatus migratorio como una exclusión de elegibilidad para Medi-Cal para todos los adultos, para evitar que otra tragedia como Juan suceda en nuestro estado."

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Have questions? Want to share your story?

Contact Carolina Gamero, Communications Specialist, cgamero@caimmigrant.org