SEAHEC hosted another successful visit for students from Mt. Sinai University’s Icahn School of Medicine in March. For the past seven years, the student run group, “Medical Students Making Impacts,” has collaborated with SEAHEC to organize a week-long border service learning experience for Mt. Sinai students who are pursuing a health profession. The experience gives students an opportunity to learn about the benefits of practicing in rural Arizona, and to gain perspective on the unique health challenges of rural border communities.
The students kicked off their stay on Sunday, March 29th with an overview on immigration and how it impacts health in border communities, provided by SEAHEC Executive Director, Gail Emrick, then they took a community “windshield” tour led by Mariposa Community Health Center’s (MCHC) Child Health Manager Joyce Latura. In the afternoon, they met with Mariposa’s Medical Director, Dr. Eladio Pereira, MD, who provided a tour of the facility and an overview of provider patient care in rural border communities.
On Monday SEAHEC organized a panel discussion on local health issues. Panelists included Gail Emrick, MPH, and health providers from both sides of the border, including Mercedes Gameros, MD (Hospital General, Nogales Sonora) Gonzalo Ibarra, MD (MCHC), Eladio Pereira, MD (Medical Director at MCHC) and Alicia Sanders, a community health worker from Nogales Arizona.
“A truly amazing trip. Thank you so much for hosting our group
and leading us in learning about border health!”
The Mt. Sinai students participated in a SEAHEC Future Healthcare Leaders Club meeting at Nogales High School, where they provided training for club members on measuring blood pressure.
While they were here, the Mt. Sinai students conducted two health fairs in Nogales: one at the senior center, and another at the Mexican consulate. They also visited the Rio Rico Community Paramedicine Program, where they participated in home visits designed to identify opportunities for preventing medical emergencies before they occur. The students were welcomed by Rio Rico Fire Chief Les Caid and Capt. Alex Green, who provided an overview of the program. The students also met with Laura Romero who runs St. Andrew’s Clinic in Nogales, AZ where they shadowed department staff to learn about clinical services provided there.
Later in the week, the students met with John T. Tanner who is doing his 3rd year of residency at Kino Border Initiative with Cameron Jones, from No More Deaths to learn about the impact of migration and deportation on people’s health. The students visited the Kino Border Initiative run Comedor (cafeteria in Spanish) in Nogales Sonora. The Comedor provides meals and assistance to people who are deported without resources or transportation, and who are often forcibly separated from family members during deportation. Separation of families is a common law enforcement strategy designed to foil efforts to re-cross the border after deportation, but which often negatively impacts health and safety. Students also spoke with law enforcement agent Raymond Bean, Border Community Liaison at the Nogales Border Patrol station, and learned how border patrol agents address health problems they encounter through the Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) program.
On their final afternoon, the students met with SEAHEC staff and local partners to reflect on what they had learned. When polled about their stay here, one student said the experience “…furthered my interest in working in a rural environment.” Another said,
“I now think rural income and lifestyle would work for me.”