Medical providers prepare for the end of Title 42

Many say they are prepared now, but the future is unclear
Published: May. 10, 2023 at 10:55 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) -With Title 42 set to expire tomorrow, May 11, local medical resources are preparing for a possible influx of migrants in the coming days and months.

The common consensus among many is that while they are prepared now, they are uncertain of the future.

“We’re all trying to figure out what may happen and be as prepared as we can, given the circumstances at hand,” said Jonathan Melk, CEO of Chiricahua Community Health Centers.

Melk said their organization has been taking steps to prepare for a while. But, like many, he does not know if it will be enough if there is a surge at the border.

“We wouldn’t be able to handle a large volume over a sustained period of time. And I’m doubtful that, again, my hospital colleagues would say anything different,” said Melk.

Melk added that Cochise County already struggles with their healthcare system.

“There’s not enough of us here as it stands for the population that we have,” said Melk. “But we would certainly seek to do our part. If there was something more that was needed a larger effort or a more sustained effort, that we would need help with that.”

But he said if there were a need in the future, they would roll out their mobile clinic. Melk said this could cost approximately $5,000 per day to operate.

“Our role would really be to ensure that that they’re entering the country as healthy as they are, and certainly not in some sort of pain or infection,” said Melk.

In Pima County, where many of the asylum seekers end up, they are more prepared.

“We’ve been getting hundreds of people a week to 1000s of people a week now for a while. So we have built up the infrastructure to manage that. What we don’t know is how much more we’re going to get,” said Mark Evans, director for Pima County Communications.

Evans added that with each bus that arrives, there is no shortage of people in need of medical care.

“We’re not sure from busload to busload, what we’re going to get in terms of the medical needs. Pretty much though every group that comes in, there was somebody who needs something.,” said Evans.

And at this time, they will continue to provide the same services to all the come through the county as they have in the past.

“It’s continues to be screening for COVID. But we also have people who are presenting who have had an arduous journey, and either ran out of their medications if they have long term chronic illnesses, or didn’t have what they need and needed more treatments,” said Evan.

Melk also added that their commitment is to serve those already living in their community. If numbers do rise later on and they are unable to meet demand, they will need to rely on help from all those involved.

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