At least 12 people, mostly low-income women, are being discriminated against at a community hospital, an immigrant advocacy group said, adding that some patients are suffering from health problems due to a lack of quality care.
Those upset about the alleged discrimination gathered at the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center on Wednesday for a protest. The hospital is pushing back on the claims, with some women admitting to injuries they’ve suffered over the years.
Seeking justice, immigrant advocates from Centro Presente and former patients joined a Boston City Council member outside the center.
“For me, this is not just about political theater. This is really about creating an opportunity for the community to be seen and heard,” said Boston City Council Elder Julia Mejia.
The group said the hospital discriminated against certain patients by underserving them — mainly low-income and immigrant women.
Ligia Guardado, an asylum seeker from Honduras, said she came to America for a better life, but she never expected her 45-day-old son to die at the health center. She said she brought her newborn to the hospital twice within hours of her illness three years ago. She believes that being undocumented played a role in the quality of care.
Catherine Zavaleta-Alvarado, who came to the U.S. as a minor, couldn’t hold back her tears, saying she was misdiagnosed for 15 years. It wasn’t until she went to another clinic that she discovered her kidneys were permanently scarred.
“This is very disappointing and their unwillingness to take responsibility makes it worse.
In a statement, the health center denied the claims and said it had undergone multiple reviews by the state and federal government, citing systemic bias or lack of quality care.
The statement read in part: “We apologize for the challenging experiences these individuals have had in our health system and applaud these brave women.”
“I want them to change, I want them to be better. I’m young. Maybe if they weren’t broken, my life would be very difficult.”
An attorney representing Centro Presente said there are at least a dozen other cases alleging similar negligence. However, the lawyer pointed out that no charges have been filed as they are discussing the matter with the authorities.