Clinica de Migrantes Celebrates Health Without Borders

Friends and family of volunteer health clinic Puentes de Salud gathered at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA to celebrate the debut of Clinica de Migrantes, a chronicle of the clinic’s impact on South Philadelphia’s undocumented immigrant population.

Following the screening, senior advisor Karine Jean-Pierre moderated a panel featuring clinic co-founder and executive director Dr. Steven Larson; co-founder and director of Women’s Health Services, Dr. Jack Ludmir; volunteer physician, Dr. Daphne Owen; and filmmaker Maxim Pozdorovkin. Among the points of discussion were ways to help.

Think outside the box.
Larson noted his interest in working with undocumented immigrants goes back to when his school’s curriculum wasn’t offering exactly what he wanted. “I started working somewhere outside the four walls of the hospital.” He now trains medical students to “think outside the box” to come up with creative solutions to better serve undocumented immigrants.

Healthcare is a human issue.
Pozdorovkin encouraged attendees to “give a second thought to what responsibility we have to those who provide labor... every time you go to a restaurant, [your] meals are $10, $15, $20 cheaper because of the people who are working there.”

“These are human beings,” Larson emphasized. “These are lives, these are people who are no different than any of us. They cry; they worry; they love their children. To put a human face to that is demystifying. We have to take a second to understand how we’re all collectively being held responsible. That opens up myriad opportunities [to help], whether it’s teaching, reading a book to a kid or advocating.”

There is hope.
“If everyone in healthcare had the chance to experience what we’ve experienced, instead of being fixated on all the bad things, I can tell you something: Things can be changed,” Ludmir predicted. “Once you have this exposure, it’s transformative. And nothing in the world can replace that satisfaction.”

Yes, you can help.
“There’s so much need, not just in this community, but many others. You don’t need to be a doctor or a nurse to impact someone’s health care,” Owen explained. “It’s easy to lose sight of why you’re doing it and why you’re there, but this has been an absolutely crucial part of my development as a doctor.”