• Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Stop—This Healthcare Is Only For Illegal Immigrants!

Twice in life I have been told by a medical facility where I sought urgent medical assistance that it was "only for migrants" (read illegal immigrants). These are the two instances that I remember:

1. Scottsdale, Arizona. In 1995 when I was teaching sociology as adjunct faculty (without any health benefits) at Scottsdale Community College, I suffered a stroke and had such subsequent erratic heart activity that the emergency room team kept me in intensive care from Friday through to Monday. On Monday, when the hospital administration learned that I had no health insurance and no way to pay the $30,000.00 bill that I had already accrued, I was abruptly dismissed from the hospital, and they stopped trying to convince me to have a pace maker installed to my heart. Bizarrely, the hospital administrator dispensed with my bill by angrily tearing up my medical record file. I owed nothing. The medical assistant who walked me out of the hospital, leaned on me at the door with a sneer and said, "This is really a hospital for the Mexican migrants." There was no reply I could make, so I focused on finding my way home to recover on my own. This episode was so overwhelming that I was unable to continue teaching without benefits, and I moved back to the Midwest to find work as a technical writer.

2. Normal, Illinois. About ten years later, circa 2008, when I was providing daily care to enable my housebound parents to stay in their own home (just before I began to draw social security and therefore I had no health care of my own) I went to what I had heard was a free clinic associated with Advocate-BroMenn Hospital. I sought help for pain walking, breathing difficulties, perhaps continued heart failure as a root cause. The staff at that clinic refused to admit me to their patient roster, saying "This free clinic is only for migrant workers who have no health care because they are illegals and their employers in Normal can not provide health care for them. This time I argued to be given free assistance due to the acute nature of my symptoms. The clinic gave me "charity" status, then treated me so badly and neglectfully that I gave up trying to get medical care. I learned to live through my pain, I found ways to compensate for my shortness of breath, and so on.

What happens when the only charity medical assistance is relegated to illegal immigrants? Citizen do without. The above two cases are only the most clear-cut experiences that I remember, perhaps because much of this type of cheating and discrimination is deliberately covert to minimize objections from citizens.

I remember in the sixties when there was a free medical clinic in every neighborhood. Where did they go?

Caption: STOP—This Healthcare Is Only For Illegal Immigrants!

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2019


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