Health care organizations respond to community

The health care organizations serving the area are responding to meet the needs of the burgeoning Latino immigrant community.

Both Riverview (Meridian) and Monmouth Medical (St. Barnabas) Centers are supporting in various ways separate clinics, services and outreach health fairs that greatly benefit the community.

The Parker Clinic, Shrewsbury Avenue, Red Bank, is now loosely associated with Meridian, but its inception was directly tied to Riverview. The clinic has become a model of community responsibility and an example of outstanding human decency on the part of all the volunteers who serve there.

Riverview, in Red Bank, also has made it a priority to reach out to the community. Institutionally, it actively incorporates the opinions of the members of its committees, is acutely aware of, and responsive to, the needs of the immigrant population, and holds annual health fairs in the heart of its neighborhoods to raise awareness on a number of health prevention issues.

Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, also has launched its Family Health Care Center in downtown Broadway in the center of this great multicultural city.

The Family Center is fully staffed with doctors, nutritionists and social workers who help immigrants with any difficulties related to their circumstances. It provides first-quality medical care at the same level (same doctors) as that found at the main facility on Third Avenue. Because of its size and location, this clinical outpost is of great help to locals and its popularity speaks for itself.

Here, also, the Family Center is actively listening to the advice of members of the community and its success reflects the great efforts of all the volunteers involved.

Common to all these enterprises is, as always, the Hispanic Affairs and Resource Center.

Not only is its staff ever-present in every board, but it, too, holds an annual health fair where one can have a basic blood pressure check and find very useful information on preventive care.

The sensitivity of these institutions to the immigrant population should be commended.

In 1996, the harshest anti-immigration policies that this generation has known were passed into law.

For example, legal immigrants accepted into the United States after 1996 are barred for a period of five years from receiving Medicaid benefits and every public expense at their behalf must be answerable by the financial sponsor (every immigrant must have such a financial sponsor according to the federal Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act). This understanding in the community has left a legacy of detachment from government benefits such that even current American citizens, first-generation immigrants, are twice as likely to be uninsured than their counterparts, low-income non-immigrants, as a study from the Urban Institute has found.

We look forward to long-standing relationships with these institutions as the area undergoes a historic population shift.

Ambar Abelar is an attorney with a practice in Long Branch

Ambar abelar

Common Sense