UMC assists with financial aid in Mexican hospital
University Medical Center, Tucson Medical Center and Mexico's Sonoran Department of Public Health are uniting to strengthen the struggling health care system for families near the Mexican border.
The three groups have established a new infant care unit in the hospital at the border town of Agua Prieta to provide more assistance closer to Mexico.
The Hospital Integral de Agua Prieta's new neonatology unit has already started to care for premature and sick babies. Patients can receive even more advanced treatment in Sonora's capital city of Hermosillo, 250 miles from Agua Prieta, instead of crossing the border to Arizona.
"It's always better that people can have health care in their community -- that's our focus," said Barbara Felix, a University Medical Center representative for the Mexico Outreach program. "Our resources are going to serve more people."
Before, a newborn who needed special care had to be transported across the border and separated from the mother.
Better facilities in Agua Prieta and Hermosillo would prevent the hassle of mother and baby coming across the border, Felix said.
UMC and TMC contributed $50,000 each, plus the equipment necessary to treat the babies. Items such as isolet beds, heart and oxygen monitors and ventilators are now being used in the Agua Prieta hospital's new department.
Robert Guerrero, TMC's administrator for international and Hispanic markets said this program started as a quality improvement project after TMC began looking at why there were so many patients crossing the border for care. He said that some Mexican patients come across for better care because they don't trust their own health care system.
"It was obvious why they came up," Guerrero said.
Now, however, these babies can be treated in their own country with the new facilities and equipment.
"If it's going to help them, it's going to help us," he said. "The idea is instead of calling Tucson, it is to call Hermosillo." Tucson is 150 miles from Agua Prieta.
The language difference would be eliminated as well if the patients were treated in Mexico, Guerrero said.
The Sonoran Department of Public Health financed $200,000 for remodeling the hospital.
He also said the problem before with training the medical staff in Tucson was that the equipment was different in Mexico. Hermosillo is the place for training now because it costs less and the equipment is what they're really going to work with.
"The result out of this is people have pride in the hospital," Guerrero said.