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New Tool Available For Immigrants And Refugees In DFW To Find Affordable Healthcare


Advocates for immigrants and refugees say accessing healthcare can be difficult for them regardless of their immigration status. They could be uninsured or enrolled in high deductible insurance plans. They may also not know where to ask for help.

That’s why the Human Rights Initiative of North Texas, a nonprofit based in Dallas, has created an online site and added a hotline number for people looking for affordable medical, dental and mental healthcare.

The healthcare navigator website and hotline have resources available in English, Spanish, French and Arabic. Most of the organization's clients are from Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East.

People needing help can call (469) 444-7070. Some of the resources available include lists of free and reduced cost clinics, COVID-19 care information and information on how to register and get the COVID-19 vaccine.

"People can go there and click through a questionnaire, asking questions about what they’re looking for and then get a list of places that they can [visit]," said Kali Cohn, the community education and advocacy director for the Human Rights Initiative. "The list includes information about what the eligibility requirements are, how to get there, if we know information about how long the wait is, what languages people might speak there and it's really intended to help people find what they need.”

The project was designed by clients of the organization, who form the group known as HRI Connect. One of the group's leaders is Karen De La Cruz, who came to the U.S. from Mexico about a decade ago.

De La Cruz left an abusive husband and says she understands what it's like to not know where to turn to for help. HRI helped her with her case so she could apply and become a U.S. resident.

"I lived this experience," De La Cruz said in Spanish. "It took me a long time to see a doctor. I didn't know if I could see a doctor if I was a U.S. resident and not a U.S. citizen. I also thought it would be too expensive."

She said it doesn't matter where someone is from, that a person should be able to find the healthcare they need.

An explainer video about the healthcare navigator can be found on Facebook and YouTube.

Got a tip? Email Stella M. Chávez at schavez@kera.org. You can follow Stella on Twitter @stellamchavez.

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Copyright 2021 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Stella Chávez is KERA’s education reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35. The award-winning entry was  “Yolanda’s Crossing,” a seven-part DMN series she co-wrote that reconstructs the 5,000-mile journey of a young Mexican sexual-abuse victim from a small Oaxacan village to Dallas. For the last two years, she worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where she was part of the agency’s outreach efforts on the Affordable Care Act and ran the regional office’s social media efforts.