Latina Medical Student Goes Viral For Helping a Newly-Immigrated Latina with Healthcare Access

Latina Medical Student Goes Viral For Helping a Newly-Immigrated Latina with Healthcare Access belatina latine
Credit: Twitter

I think we can all agree that navigating the healthcare system in the United States is a mess as a whole. It’s complicated for no reason at all – and let’s not get started on how expensive it is. 

However, as with everything, some communities struggle more when trying to access healthcare. 

Let’s take a look at Latine/o immigrants, for instance. 

In a study conducted by Pew Research, it found that 55 percent of Hispanic immigrants living in the U.S. for 10 years or less say they have seen a healthcare provider in the past year, compared with 63 percent of those immigrants who have been in the U.S. 11 to 20 years, and 77 percent who have been in the U.S. more than 20 years.  As you can see, a lot of our community doesn’t see a healthcare provider at any given moment. This is troublesome considering the many illnesses the Latine/o population is prone to such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and more.  

There are many factors to this. Oftentimes, it is due to language and cultural barriers. However, not knowing the resources available is also a large component of healthcare disparities within the Latine/o population.

This is something that a Good Samaritan learned first-hand while she was commuting in New York City. 

Latina medical student showcases the power of our community 

In a recent viral Twitter thread, Fabiola Plaza, a Venezuelan aspiring pediatric neurologist living in New York, encountered the stark reality of lack of access to healthcare.

Her tweet started off by recounting her interaction with a woman who had asked her if she spoke Spanish to which she replied that she did. The woman asked her how to get to East Harlem, New York and Plaza decided to tell her to stay with her since she was transferring to the same stop. 

Soon after, they engaged in conversation and the woman started telling Plaza her situation. She disclosed that she had arrived from South America – leaving her kids behind –  two months prior and was working as a nanny. 

Though she has a job, she recognizes she is being underpaid. 

The woman then asked Plaza about herself and she informed her that she is a medical student who is part of her school’s free clinic, which provides access to healthcare for the uninsured. 

In Plaza’s tweets, she explains how thankful the woman was when she learned this considering she had come to the U.S. with only three months’ supply of medicine essential to her and was spacing it out to make it last longer. Still, she knew her medicine was soon to run out and was starting to feel her body change due to the lack of proper dosages.

 

Without missing a beat, the future pediatric neurologist contacted Mount Sinai’s free clinic – which is student-led – as she waited for her next train, and within minutes she was speaking to her colleagues. 

From there, the woman was assigned a social worker and helped with a potential next appointment to be seen by a medical professional at the free clinic. Their trip together ended shortly after and the woman thanked Plaza as she got off her stop. 

The woman later texted Plaza, expressing her gratitude for helping her. The text roughly translates in English to: “Hi Fabiola. You are so beautiful and have a heart of gold, my girl. Take care of yourself. May God protect you and soon you’ll be my doctor.”

To conclude such a lovely story, Plaza tweeted out a Google Document with a list of free clinics and organizations that support immigrants in New York City as well. 

This short story goes to show how our community shows up for one another, but more importantly, how so many people are unaware of the resources they have within their reach. 

There’s work that needs to be done

Though there are plenty of programs around the nation that help the uninsured, low-income individuals, and underprivileged folks, it’s difficult to come across them. 

The healthcare system needs to work on fixing this issue by creating ways to communicate properly with all communities – and that they can all get to these clinics without any issues. Transportation is also a determining factor why so many underserved communities don’t access healthcare more often. 

In a world where chaos and tragedy seem to be the norm, it’s great to read stories where others give humanity hope of compassion and empathy.