That doctor in rural Minnesota planning for what her team will do when the first coronavirus patient shows up at their small rural hospital? She is an immigrant, one of more than 2,000 foreign-trained doctors who practice in Minnesota. Immigrants make up more than one in five of all doctors in the state, and an even higher percentage of doctors in rural areas.
That nursing assistant diligently scrubbing her hands in between patients and wishing for more masks and gloves? She’s an immigrant, like tens of thousands of other immigrants providing frontline care in hospitals and nursing homes across the state. Nationally, about 16 percent of registered nurses and nearly a quarter of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides are immigrants.
From health care to food production
Immigrants, with or without permanent resident visas, work in health care, child care, grocery aisles, food production, and delivery in rural and urban communities across our state.
They are all Minnesotans. Like you and like me, they are trying to cope with their own fears of infection, the needs of their families, the flood of information about both the virus and the government responses to it, all while working at crucial jobs that we all depend on.
Immigrants and citizens: We are all in this together.
Less likely to have health insurance, access to care
Yet immigrants, and especially undocumented immigrants, are far less likely to have health insurance and access to medical care. Apart from humanitarian concerns, making sure that they have access to health care is good public policy to protect everyone. Making medical care available to all Minnesotans means greater protection for all Minnesotans, and a quicker road to containing this pandemic.
Besides medical care, we all need food and shelter and, yes, toilet paper, too. With unemployment numbers skyrocketing and the economy plunging into recession, families need help to stay afloat.
By Veena Iyer for MINNPOST
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