From staff reports
In an attempt to shed light on the difficulty undocumented immigrants face in obtaining access to affordable health care, HBO is airing the documentary “Clínica de Migrantes,” beginning Sept. 25.
The documentary follows volunteers at the Puentes de Salud health clinic in South Philadelphia, which serves uninsured Latino immigrants who have nowhere else to turn. Spotlighting the bonds between the doctors and their patients, the documentary will run for Hispanic Heritage Month, which is Sept. 15-Oct. 15.
“Clínica de Migrantes” follows the stories of patients, many of whom left their families behind to find work in America, and the staffers who treat around 10,000 patients each year with limited space and little funding.
As the clinic plans a larger facility to accommodate rapidly increasing demand, the documentary shows how executive director Dr. Steve Larson and his team must find ways to keep the practice running. Needing increased funding, for example, Larson reaches out to local restaurants that provide work for immigrants, though getting unconditional support sometimes proves difficult.
Similar roadblocks arise when patients need more advanced medical help. In one instance, Larson tries to call in a favor from a local surgeon to help someone who has had a colostomy bag for three years, but the answer is clear: unless the man has insurance, treatment is not an option.
Through personal stories, “Clínica de Migrantes” asks Americans if it’s possible to continue withholding basic necessities from an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. Underserved, undocumented immigrants with medical issues often end up in emergency rooms as a costly last resort, and can be charged thousands of dollars for little more than an aspirin, the documentary shows.
“Clínica de Migrantes” debuts at 10 p.m. will also be available on HBO Latino, HBO On Demand, HBO NOW, HBO GO and affiliate portals.