HEALTHCARE ACCESS AT THE BORDER: EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP THAT PATIENTS AND PROVIDERS HAVE WITH MEDICAL CARE IN ARIZONA-MEXICO BORDER COMMUNITIES
AuthorMartin, Kellan Juliet
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe United States - Mexico border spans 2,000 miles that pass through 44 U.S counties. Of these counties, 33 are characterized as micropolitan and contain the most concentrated population of Hispanic Americans in the United States. The border region is disproportionately affected by public health issues including diabetes, obesity, and tuberculosis, but also has decreased rates of health insurance and low-income levels. As an Arizona native and someone who has spent much time volunteering in border communities, I created this project to explore the relationship that patients and medical providers have with healthcare access in border communities. Following a thorough literature review, a total of 19 patients at the UArizona Flying Samaritans Nueva Esperanza clinic in Agua Prieta, Mexico filled out a questionnaire regarding their experience with healthcare access. Additionally, I interviewed eight medical providers with experience in border medicine. My findings suggest that both patients and healthcare providers are negatively affected by the lack of health insurance, the expense of medical care, and the low level of specialty care provided in border communities. Health care providers were found to experience some disconnect with their patients for a variety of reasons, including language barriers and cultural differences. Some patients were found to have negative experiences with their doctors and the medical community due to distrust, instability, and the belief that good healthcare is only accessible with money - which for this population, is the reality. My suggestions to improve healthcare equity for this population are for individuals to increase volunteer hours spent in border communities, make an effort to learn Spanish, practice healthcare from a place of empathy and cultural awareness, and fight for policy change in these regions.