For many folks from low-income or immigrant households, getting regular check ups isn’t a reality. This is something Dr. J. Luis Bautista, 64, knows firsthand. As the son of farmworkers (who picked along them and his nine siblings in Ventura County), visiting doctors wasn’t always a possibility. So when he went to medical school, he promised himself he’d help farmworker communities.
“I pledged in medical school to help these people in the farm fields,” he said, according to NBC News. “I knew how it felt not to have anything, not to have the money to go to a doctor.”
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Bautista treats and attends to many farmworkers and undocumented immigrants at his two Central Valley clinics, and he never turns down patients who cannot pay for medical care. He’ll accept onions, eggs, live chickens, and handmade items in exchange.
Farmworkers also worry that if they visit a doctor, their information will wind up in the hands of immigration officials. “They tell me that one reason they don’t go to the doctor is over fear they’ll be reported,” said the Medical College of Wisconsin graduate. Since the clinic won’t ask patients about immigration status and it has set up a system in case of a raid, immigrants feel safe at his clinics.
Providing this space for undocumented farmworkers is important because many end up trying to cure diabetes and high blood pressure with home remedies. It can sometimes become too late for medical treatment.