Within three months of immigrating to the United States in 1994, I was diagnosed with cancer, and my doctor quickly ushered me over to MGH for immediate surgery and treatment. As an immigrant in a new country, and only knowing my fiancée, and a few people, it was a really scary time. I will never forget the absolute feeling of isolation as I stared death in the eye. After travelling thousands of miles to get here, and overcoming complex immigration challenges, it seemed my world had collapsed within a few minutes sitting in that doctor’s office in Brookline, Massachusetts. Thankfully the MGH treatment was successful, and I am forever grateful to my wonderful doctor, urologist and medical team at MGH.
Fast forward 25 years to today, when the Irish International Immigrant Center and Boston Medical Center announce a new agreement to provide free immigration legal services to the hospital’s low-income immigrant patients and their families. IIIC’s staff attorneys have provided free legal aid to immigrant patients and their families at local hospitals for the past ten years. We have witnessed the heartbreak that parents of terminally ill children experience when they must watch them battle through treatment and also worry about whether their immigration status will enable them to legally stay at their bedside.
This new project will enable our attorneys to provide on-site legal services at BMC, where many patients and their families are more easily able to access the support they need. We will support immigrant patients with free consultations and full representation, and will provide professional development on immigration law for BMC’s passionate and dedicated staff.
Being able to stay legally in the US for medical treatment is often lifesaving. However, immigrant patients and their families face tremendous obstacles when they are forced to navigate the complex US immigration system while fighting their own health battles. For these patients, tenuous immigration status brings stress and anxiety. We know that good health outcomes are diminished when immigration status is a roadblock to well-being and care, and the IIIC and BMC seek to alleviate these challenges.
It is a privilege for the IIIC to work alongside these patients and their families. I am grateful to my colleagues Jackie Kelly, Becky Minahan and Tony Marino and to the team at BMC for their deep care for immigrant patients. For more information on our medical partnership work, please contact Tony Marino at 617-542-7654 or read our press release here.
PS: We were saddened to learn about the passing of Rob Restuccia of Health Care for All. We will be forever grateful for Rob’s visionary leadership and advocacy. We are thankful to work alongside HCFA to promote health care access for all in our community.