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The Psychiatric Hospital as Safe House? Strange Asylum for Undocumented Immigrants with Mental Health Needs – Nora Kenworthy

January 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Nora Kenworthy
Columbia

Over the past few years, stories have trickled into the U.S. national media about hospitals struggling to cope with the burden of caring for undocumented immigrants who lack insurance and are ineligible for benefits. These reports, including a recent series by New York Times reporter Kevin Sack and an even more recent NYT piece by Sam Roberts, feature accounts of chronically-ill patients being removed from dialysis, or ‘repatriated’ to their countries of origin in comas, to be cared for by long-lost and poorly-equipped relatives. As Luis Plascencia wrote on this blog a few years ago, these rare glimpses into hospital decision-making processes indicate that rising costs and non-existent legal protections for immigrants have led to a ‘privatization’ and ‘outsourcing’ of deportation by health care institutions.

To date, this meager public attention has focused exclusively on hospitals treating physical illnesses. Virtually no mention has been made of how psychiatric and mental health institutions handle undocumented immigrants.  Read more…

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