SERIES: Healthcare in America #25, Brielle Cardieri and Cindy Saenz, This Is the Bronx

This is part of an ongoing series that gives Bronx writers a chance to share their personal stories on the state of healthcare in America.
By Brielle Cardieri and Cindy Saenz, January 7, 2019

Healthcare and Immigrants

One of the most frustrating things about caring for patients is knowing that there are viable treatments available but that, because of your patient’s legal status, they cannot get access. Our patient doesn’t have the option of life-saving treatment. Here is her story.

Linda is our patient at the student-run free clinic at our medical school. The clinic serves patients who are uninsured and ineligible for insurance, the majority of whom are undocumented immigrants from Central and South America. Linda emigrated from Mexico twenty years ago to escape persecution and violence because of her sexual orientation but also to seek a better life living with her brother in New York City.

Linda came to our clinic with a variety of medical problems, the most significant of which is chronic kidney disease (CKD), a condition that causes the kidneys to lose their ability to remove waste products from the blood. As the disease progresses, the only two options to prevent death from kidney failure are dialysis or kidney transplantation. While the etiology of CKD is multifactorial, it is most commonly the result of long-standing uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension. Over the course of our time together, Linda has transitioned from living a fully independent life to relying on dialysis three days per week to keep her alive.

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