The battle of Antietam took place 150 years ago in September 17th, 1862. It’s known as the bloodiest day in US history, 24,000 casualties. The Union defeated the outnumbered Confederates by late afternoon. Every year thousands gather to re-enact the battle.
I’ll be arriving late on the 8th of August so I won’t start my actual live-reporting till the 9th. I’ll be looking at the effects and changes to London at the tail end and after the Olympics. Today I read an interesting article regarding whether or not the Olymipics is bad business for London on time.com’s site. It’s an interesting angle.
I’ve not lived in London long, certainly not steadily, however many colleagues have asked me about how the economy has changed in England. Truth is, that it’s not till this year that England will feel the hard-edged effects of the budget slashes. I can say that the Brits are overjoyed not to be part of the Euro downfall. However, this year’s Olympic events, followed by a gracious Diamond Jubilee, has glimmered many signs of economic disorder and worries.
As it is, the budget has long overshadowed the estimated budget and is now the costliest Olympic Games since Atlanta hosted it back in 1996. Professor Bent Flyvbjerg, of Oxford University has put together a report which claims that the London Olympics will be 101% over budget, as stated in his interview with NBC, see the interview here. It was originally quoted to cost about $400,000, but that number quickly inflated on the run up to the event.
Economists have pointed out that the economic benefits to hosting a mega event, such as the Olympics or the World Cup, are few. In a paper written by economists Andrew K. Rose and Mark M. Spiegel in 2009, shows that international trade does indeed have a good impact in the long run. They’ve found that cities who’ve hosted these large events have a 30 percent increase. Notably, they’ve also found that cities who’ve lost the bid also had the same positive outcome when in came to exports.
In the time that I’ve been away from London, and back visiting New York, I have seen an increased sensation towards all things British. At first I thought that it merely signalled my homesickness to my new host country, but in fact it’s the beginning of the trickle of the British export. I see the British flag posted on t-shirts, bags, chocolate bars. I hear the Clash singing “London Calling” out of random music systems. Honestly, I’ve been seeing the British flag more than our own American Flag these days!
It’s the cheap cost of needed health care, about 20 dollars a visit, that has brought them all the way up the 19 steps from the bustling Roosevelt Avenue below. They’ve come to visit Dr. Guido E. Reinoso, an older man, with a thick mustache and a soft smile.
On a typical Sunday, Dr. Reinoso will treat more than 50 patients, most are undocumented immigrants. He examines his patients in the small back room of his second floor Queens office. Patients wait a couple of hours to receive about 10 minutes of his care. After their session, some leave the doctor’s office clasping onto brown paper bags containing treatments.
The framed credentials on Dr. Reinoso’s wall aren’t those you’d expect most doctors to display. Although he says he’s a licensed doctor in his native country of Ecuador, here Dr. Reinoso serves the community as a natural health practitioner. He treats his patients, mostly Ecuadorians who live in the community, with herbs and dietary supplements. “It’s part of our culture,” said Dr. Reinoso. In Ecuador, doctors often treat patients with teas and vitamins.
The patients here can afford Dr. Reinoso’s low fee, and some he’ll even treat for free. “They don’t have health insurance and clinics are too expensive for them,” he said.
Adam Yuguilema, 40, is a patient of Dr. Reinoso. Rather than visit a clinic or emergency room, he waits till his day off for a visit. “The doctor will treat me faster and cheaper,” he says. Mr. Yuguilema is an undocumented immigrant from Ecuador. He’s been living in the U.S. for the past 11 years.
Mr. Yuguilema visits Dr. Reinoso’s office mostly to treat his allergies. He learned of the doctor through word-of-mouth. During his visit, Mr. Yuguilema received a shot and enough pills for two weeks. When asked, the doctor denied giving any medicine. Mr. Yuguilema is completely unsure of what the shot or pills were exactly, “I trust that the doctor is giving me medicine to cure me, not kill me.”
For decades the United States has been viewed as a refuge for immigrants from all over the world. Little do they know, that basic needs, such as health care, is third-rate for them. Some find alternative doctors, such as Mr. Reinoso, who aren’t licensed to practice in the United States. Many spend hours inside emergency waiting rooms or community health centers. Even then, they receive only minutes with a doctor or nurse. They are then sent off with referrals they can’t use and prescriptions they can’t afford to fill.
Affordable health care is a nationwide problem. From waiting room to waiting room, faces all show despair over the lack of affordable options. The latest census report states that 50.7 million people currently have no health insurance. 13 million are foreign-born. The Department of Homeland Security estimates that there are10.8 million are unauthorized immigrants. The national health policy is undergoing much awaited changes for citizens lacking medical insurance. Whether immigrants should or shouldn’t have any benefits, particularly the undocumented, has been a contentious issue. But everywhere, from Arizona, to Georgia, to the streets of New York, immigrants need reliable health services and they will continue to.
In 1996 Congress restricted federal benefits to immigrants and required a five-year minimum for green card holders before they can qualify for public health benefits. But emergency care is usually available to anyone. Federal and state tax dollars fund emergency care.
In New York, a visit to the emergency room doesn’t require disclosure of any immigration status, in compliance with Bloomberg’s Executive Order 41. During intake, billing information is simply directed to the patient’s address. However the bill usually amounts to many times more than it would (or should) through a normal doctor’s visit.
Mr. Felix Acevedo, 44, was charged over 700 hundred dollars for a couple of stitches when he was treated in Elmhurst Hospital in Queens. He’d been working on a paint job in someone’s backyard as a day laborer for 50 dollars. At some point a neighbor’s dog became loose and ran over to Mr. Acevedo. His left wrist was soon clutched in the mouth of the pit-bull and he began to bleed profusely. The police came to the scene. They advised Mr. Acevedo to go to the hospital and check the possibility of a rabies infection. An ambulance was called and drove Mr. Acevedo less than two miles to the emergency room.
“I waited almost all day,” said Mr. Acevedo. He became anxious in the waiting room and changed his own dressing. Later he was asked to sign a paper in English. He was told it was a release to receive treatment but he couldn’t read it. The medical staff gave him an injection, some cream and a prescription. He was then sent home.
Mr. Acevedo never filled that prescription. He couldn’t afford it. He had lost almost a full day’s work. Instead, he applied Aloe Vera and carefully changed the dressing everyday.
Almost a month later his cut healed. He received an envelope from the hospital. It was a bill for $777.70. “I was in shock,” said Mr. Acevedo. “All they did was give me a shot and some cream. I could’ve just gone home and cleaned it up myself.”
A few weeks later Mr. Acevedo received another bill, $529, for the ambulance service. “I could’ve walked! Or even taken a cab,” he said. It was after all only a short walk to the hospital.
The bill was entirely unaffordable for his sporadic income. Mr. Acevedo says he would have been more than willing to pay for the care he received. “But this charge is unreasonable,” he said. He sought help from NICE (New Immigrant Community Empowerment), an immigrant advocacy group, who referred him to a social worker from another organization to get the emergency charges waived. He will still be responsible for the ambulance bill.
“We have a lot of members with this problem,” said Valeria Treves, the executive director for NICE. During a meeting with some of her members she asked about their experiences at the local emergency room. A young man declared, “that’s not a hospital, it’s a morgue.” The others in the small meeting room chuckled.
In this community there is an urban myth about emergency visits. Names are not attributed. “The brother of a friend walked in with a stomach pain, a day later he died.” The story goes on to describe the experience that the friend had when trying to inquire about the cause of his brother’s death. Since there are no documents to prove kinship, the person was denied all patient information. The death remains a mystery all the way back to their home country.
Even Mr. Yuguilema has avoided emergency rooms due to this myth. “Many people have told me not to go there when I get sick, because instead of healing you they kill you.”
Despite this questionable popular reputation, many people do enter the double sliding doors. In 2010, the Elmhurst Hospital emergency room treated 134, 582 patients. About forty percent of these patients were self-pay visits that later get adjusted according to income, paid with a monthly plan, or absorbed by Medicaid emergency funds as in Mr. Acevedo’s case. Immigration status isn’t tracked by the hospital.
Over four billion tax dollars are already spent annually on providing health care for the undocumented according to the Center for Immigrant Studies. However the Congressional Budget Office says that extending immigrants a public health option would be more expensive when compared with emergency room costs. So for now, nothing is changing.
Currently immigrants struggle to survive on the edges of American communities. Many are adamant about staying out of the public health sphere. They are left on their own to navigate the underground networks of sympathetic health practitioners, pharmacists and acquaintances. They seek so-and-so’s daughter who is studying medicine; she may be able to diagnose the problem. A friend or relative is traveling to their home country; maybe they will bring back some medicine. A neighbor, the one whose close friend is a pharmacist, maybe he can help to attain a prescribed drug.
In Queens there are several pharmacies that will sell a couple of loose pills though it’s not easy to get. Instead of needing a doctor’s prescription, you have to be referred by someone who is trusted. It’s a dubious but accessible way of treating an illness.
Community health centers offer a small solution. Carmelo Chavez, 39, an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, was referred to his clinic, The Ryan Center, by his citizen fiancé. This center is just steps away from his home, on the upper west side. He pays $32 a visit, adjusted according to the income he reported during registration, $150 weekly.
“The waiting room is completely saturated,” said Mr. Chavez. “It’s really frustrating.” Inside the first-floor waiting area, Mr. Chavez waits with about 35 other seated people and more standing against the walls. Screaming children and people in bad moods make the room feel much smaller.
Later Mr. Chavez is directed down the hallway to another waiting room. “It shouldn’t be like this,” he said referring to the shuffling from one doctor’s waiting room to the next. Finally when Mr. Chavez is in the exam room, his temperature, blood pressure and weight are hastily taken and recorded in his file. In a few short minutes, Mr. Chavez’s face time with the doctor ends and his main concerns are overlooked. His ailments eventually fade.
Most health centers throughout the US don’t verify resident status. Some critics say that there should be some sort of verification procedure in order to deter unauthorized immigrants from using public services, such as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements programs also known as SAVE. It’s equivalent to the E-Verify system that employers use to verify immigration status of employees.
Mr. Ira Mehlman, from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) organization, is an advocate of the SAVE system. He says preventing access to medical care is part of the solution to illegal immigration. “If you remove the reason why they came here in the first place, many of them, if not most, will make the rational decision that it is not worth sticking around.”
The number of Federal, state, and local agencies that participate in the SAVE program has been increasing in recent years. The cost of implementing the system is very high. Results from the program show that nearly no immigrant has been found trying to apply. “When the highway patrol wants to enforce the speed limit, they put lots of patrol cars out on the highway, your not surprised to find not too many people [anymore] speeding out there,” said Mr. Mehlman who is confident that the program is indeed keeping the away the undocumented.
Some legislators say it makes sense to offer immigrants a public health option. “The undocumented community is to the point where even their citizen children are suffering” said Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez (D) from Illinois “their children play with our children.” It’s a public health concern. “People tend to think that immigrants live in an isolated community, they don’t,” said Congressman Gutierrez. Immigrants are often employed in kitchens, making our beds and picking our fruit. “They are part of our everyday life and denying them appropriate healthcare or accessibility puts all of us at risk.”
As the outbreak of the H1N1 flu showed us, public health affects everyone.
A recent federal statute requires all individuals to obtain health insurance by 2014. Federal subsidies will be available for those who meet the standard. But for unauthorized immigrants, which mostly live on hand-to-mouth incomes, this can push them further into the health care abyss.
Mr. Yuguilema doesn’t know how long he will live out these circumstances. He’s thought about leaving many times. “If something serious occurred, I don’t know what would happen. I practically live alone. I don‘t know what I’d do,” said Mr. Yuguilema. He has been paying taxes for almost six years hoping that immigration reform might legitimize him. Reform that may or may not, come soon. For now alternative medicine and homemade soup is his most affordable option.
Medical treatments inside detention centers isn’t hands-on, it’s paperwork. First a detainee must file a report and make a formal request to visit a healthcare professional. This person can be anything from an Emergency Medical Professional (EMT) to a Nurse or a Physician. According to the contract between ICE and Otero County, medical coverage can be on-call and off-site, as long as it’s a 24/7 deal.
Even so, not all pleas will lead to an actual consultation. Often inmates will just sign-off on offers to receive a pain reliever, such as in Guevara-Lozano’s case. But herein lies a problem as to who is making these decisions. How is the escalation of a request to have a medical visit determined?
“God I wish they had just taken care of him” said Richard Chavez, one of the EMT’s who responded when Guevara-Lozano Chavez was found on the floor in seizures. His headaches had clearly evolved.
Guevara-Lozano was then taken to the Thomason Hospital emergency room. Two ICE officers guarded him. Meanwhile, his wife rushed to see him. “He was not there, it was just his body”, said Mata who saw that her husband was about to die. “The machines were doing everything for him.”
A few hours later Guevara-Lozano was declared brain dead and the machines were shut off. Guevara-Lozano’s life officially expired on the 13th of August, 2007 by ICE and they released his body to the family. His headaches were symptoms of a brain aneurysm.
Guevara-Lozano was the 80th person to have died under I.C.E. custody since 2004. Since then 54 more detainees have died. Causes of the deaths range from cancer to asphyxiation to hanging.
More undocumented immigrants have fallen under ICE’s custody than ever before since the US began to seal its borders from terrorists. Private institutions or prisons are contracted to help with this growing population. It’s a complex web of private contractors and sub-contractors who are supposed to provide the very basic needs for detained immigrants.
Inside detention meals, recreation and bed space is tight. Detainees are housed in large warehouse-like rooms and have strictly controlled access to the outside world. This becomes a very complicated matter when medical needs arise. It’s a system that has been criticized for being highly inadequate and unaccountable.
Guevara-Lozano might have not died if the circumstances were different. Had he not been detained, he could have simply driven a couple of minutes into Juarez, Mexico and seen his family physician at a low cost. If he’d been transferred to a hospital and had a scan he might have begun treatment. Instead Guevara-Lozano spent his last hours in an institution with about 1000 other detainees, all under the care of just two Emergency Medical Technicians, no licensed physicians on-site. “One of these EMT’s was brand new,” said Mrs. Mata’s lawyer.
While I attended the New York Times Student Journalism Institute I met a couple of men who were in charge of controlling the local chicken population.
As the presidential elections move closer to the voting day, the nation is flourishing with new voters, many of them are new citizens. In downtown New York City on Friday October 10, 2008, 239 immigrants each received a crisp thick piece of paper titled “Certificate of Naturalization”. These new citizens who came from 57 different countries were kindly congratulated by Judge George B. Daniels who also led the ceremony.
Just outside the court room a voting advocate group named the Asian American Legal Defense & Education Fund hosted a voter registration table. According to their counts they collected 141 completed forms from the new citizens on the last day to register to vote in the state of New York.
SACRED OATH: Many of the newly minted U.S. citizens sworn in on Oct. 10 promptly registered to vote. Oct. 10 also was the state deadline to register to vote in the upcoming presidential election. REPORTED BY RIA JULIEN (PRODUCED BY SANDRA ROA)
They looked like vertical metallic coffins, rows and rows of voting machines lined up in a Brooklyn warehouse on the last Wednesday before Election Day. (See Article)
They stood side-by-side, more than 2,200 of them, six-and-a-half feet tall. Inside each one, distinctive levers that recorded an estimated 100 million votes readied for what could be their final service to democracy.
This Election Day likely will be the last time New Yorkers will cast votes using the city’s aging fleet of pull-lever machines. The Board of Elections plans to phase out the Shoup 3.2 Mechanicals by next year’s mayoral election. New York is the only state in the nation that still hasn’t updated its machines.
In the back of the dusty warehouse, a senior voting machine technician, Richard Kanar, picked up a few machine parts scattered along the floor, leftover from hours of meticulous maintenance work performed on each machine.
“This is a handle, that’s a thick,” he said, holding a thumbnail-size rounded metal holder. “That’s a three-strap,” he said, pointing to a flat, seven-inch-long silver piece of metal that looks kind of like a nail file with a hole at each end and in the middle. A three-strap allows only one vote for a candidate who is listed under more than one party for the same office.
It takes 85 technicians to get the machines ready for Election Day. The machines themselves are only one part of an intricate system that includes serial numbers, keys, police envelopes, protective counter numbers, and signed seals, all assigned to specific election districts.
Nearby, Yolanda Bentley, 42, marked some of the envelopes in red to remind poll workers to use the correct key to lock the machines when the polls close. If not, the keys will break in the machines, which causes delays on election night, she said.
Bentley said she was going to miss the lever machines. “The main thing is to get everything out and in order. Either way, it’s history and we’re a part of it,” she added.
John O’Grady is responsible for overseeing the task of moving all the machines and equipment to over 1,300 polling sites citywide.
At a time when the world is working in a matrix of ones and zeros, this facility operates on switches, screws and wheels, and of course many hours of human labor.
With more than 700, 000 new voter registrations in the last year, the squadron of aging machines prepared for the high turnout.
The week before the historic 2008 election, the warehouse in Red Hook buzzed with activity. Unbeknownst to any of New York City’s voters, a team of dedicated workers– no, not Keebler elves performing ‘magic’– carried out a routine set in place since the 1960s. See Photo Slideshow.
Voter Reactions After Using the Machines on Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008
Many close relationships that I’ve had with other women have revealed, through intimate conversations, childhood pasts of inappropriate sexual behavior from adults.
I became interested in how often the abuse was from someone they knew. About 95% of victims of sexual abuse know their perpetrators.
Most abuse goes unreported. This work is a reporting and explores the memories that child abuse leaves years after.
Molested Memories is a collaborative photographic project that explores the experience of sexual abuse survivors. Interviews about the sexual abuse are heard and juxtaposed with images that portray contemplative moments about their past.
Full disclosure is given about the intimate details which are often only shared in high confidence and promotes a space for conversation about the topic.