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Mid-City CAN Blog

Employee Rights Center adds immigrant health focus

Employee Rights Center's Adriana Huerta specializes in community health education. Photo by Adam Ward

Employee Rights Center's Adriana Huerta specializes in
community health education.
Photo by Adam Ward

 

Medicine or food – it is a choice that no one wants to have to make.


For immigrants and refugees in City Heights, it can be the reality. In addition to money, staying healthy and getting needed care presents many other challenges.


Employee Rights Center recently launched a program to help immigrants and refugees overcome these obstacles.

In September, Adriana Huerta began reaching out to the immigrant community to offer assistance and promote health education for immigrants in the City Heights area.

“Immigrants and undocumented people face many tough challenges accessing services,” Huerta said.

Huerta broke these challenges into three main categories: the most obvious is language issues. The next is navigating the system and programs available.

The final challenge is money -- despite the reduced rate for medical services that many community clinics charge, which can start at $35, not including lab work or prescriptions.

“It can bleed some people’s wallets,” she said.

She said that her role is to support immigrants and refugees while they are applying for benefits and to follow them through the process.

Most of the referrals for the program come through people seeking legal counsel from the Employee Rights Center, which also is providing technical assistance to Mid-City CAN momentum teams, or work groups.

The California Endowment funds this technical assistance. Price Charities funds ERC’s program to provide health education for immigrants in the City Heights area. Huerta said that between 40 and 50 percent of the people she works with are from City Heights.

Employee Rights Center is one of the few organizations that offers nonprofit immigration services in San Diego, said Peter Zschiesche, Employee Rights Center's founding director in an interview about a year ago.

A commitment of $225 million to help support implementation of health-care reform in California by The California Endowment, including funding care for undocumented Californians, left Huerta wanting to know more about specific details.

The next step for her, Huerta said, is outreach to the Somali community.

She is teaming up with Mid-City CAN School Attendance Momentum Team Member Rhoda Abdi for outreach help and language assistance.

She estimated that she has only worked with 10 Somalis out of the approximately 200 immigrants and refugees she has seen since September, but she hopes to increase that number significantly, she said.

Abdi “is going to play a critical role in helping us communicate and with outreach,” Huerta said.

Employee Rights Center
(619) 521-1372
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4265 Fairmount Ave., Suite 210

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The Mid-City Community Advocacy Network's mission is to create a safe, productive,Quotation (Right)
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