Hospital along US-Mexico border getting overwhelmed

(NewsNation) — A combination of the flu, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and the cold are putting a strain on hospitals across the country. One hospital on the U.S./Mexico border is seeing this problem magnified, as it has also been dealing with what they say is an “influx” of migrants coming in for care.

The Yuma Regional Medical Center in Arizona is the only hospital within 180 miles. It saw roughly 4,400 more patients last fiscal year compared to the year before.

Because it is close to the southern border, hospital officials say the amount of people crossing that come in for care is not sustainable. 

“We don’t have the staff, physicians, the nurses, or the space to accommodate the influx that we have,” Dr. Robert Trenschel said. “We’re providing uncompensated care to significant portions of people that are coming.”

The medical center, which is a nonprofit, has more than $20 million in uncompensated care it has tried to recoup, to no avail, putting the hospital in a tight spot.

“We’ve been able to sustain it up until now — how much longer we can, I don’t know,” Trenschel said. “It feels terrible, but you know what? Nobody’s listening. There’s no revenue source to help offset these expenses that were incurring.”

People living in the region have felt the impacts as well. Trenschel says local women who have planned inductions have had to be rescheduled when beds were full. 

“A lot of babies end up in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit because they don’t have a lot of prenatal care or mom has a chronic disease that hasn’t been well taken care of, and now the baby is suffering,” Trenschel said.

The hospital is now raising the white flag and calling for the federal government to step in.

“I mean, they’re the ones that are allowing this,” Trenschel said. “They’re the ones that should take responsibility for this.”

Yuma County declared a state of emergency due to the number of migrant crossings. KAWC reports that the chairman of the Yuma County Board of Supervisors, Tony Reyes, said this was put into place because of the seasonal rise of illness and a predicted increase in undocumented immigrants into the US after the expiration of Title 42. Title 42 was a Donald Trump-era policy that restricted the amount of migrants coming in because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trenschel says he is grateful for Yuma’s emergency declaration because it provides the hospital some additional resources, like pharmaceuticals from the strategic national stockpile. Yuma Regional Medical Center is also considering deploying teams to set up tents to be able to care for individuals if they need to.