Story on Hispanic Center Closure Draws Comments on Immigration

On Tuesday, intern Tom Giratikanon wrote about the possible closure of El Centro de la Familia, a health program that reaches out to the growing Hispanic population in the county. The Kitsap County Health Department, which administers the program, is facing budget cuts and needs to look at closing the center to save $65,000 on a $200,000 budget deficit, district officials say. A budget hearing is set for Aug. 20.

The story has drawn comments on the Kitsap Sun Web site from a number of readers, including Sharon O’Hara who asks, “Are these people here legally or are they illegal aliens?”

To which another writer, “baisah,” responds, “Are you asking that question about ‘them being here legally or are they illegal aliens’, just because they are Hispanic??
Poor is poor and knows no boundaries.. From the other comments, it looks like there are other important services being cut as well.”

Tom said he did not mention the issue of immigration (legal or illegal) in the story because it was not part of health officials’ thought process as they considered budget cuts.

But now that the issue has been raised, what do you see as the role of public health programs in meeting the needs of undocumented people living in Kitsap and North Mason counties?

10 thoughts on “Story on Hispanic Center Closure Draws Comments on Immigration

  1. Whether they are documented or not is “not part of the thought process”? well, there’s part of the problem. These people have figured out that they can come to our country illegally, and they can depend on the government to take care of them for free, regardless of their status. The government should be screening recipients of benefits for their legal status. If they are not legal, they should be deported, not supported, by our government.
    This is happening on a national level. the liberals in government service, not able to pass legal means to support undocumented people through congress, sidestep the issue buy creating gigantic loopholes in the vetting process for government benefits, to get their way anyway. Don’t think this is not done on purpose – the regulations are designed deliberately to allow the government programs to hand money and benefits to just about anyone, legal or not.

  2. You have no idea how hard it is to say this…but in my opinion, the Kitsap County Health Department has no business spending tax payer dollars on illegal aliens – UNLESS they ask the legal residents of Kitsap County if we mind they do so.

    They have a budget…only so many dollars for so many important public issues…spending it on illegal aliens is outrageous and I mean illegal aliens of any nationality!

    Why isn’t the KCHD accountable for their choices?
    Who makes the decisions?
    Why aren’t the people of Kitsap County allowed imput?
    Who is the ‘buck stops here!’ person?

    Why aren’t the funds spent on the greatest good for the most people? I thought a democracy did that?!

    KCHD refuses to give simple, fast, preventative Spirometry testing for lung disease – COPD, the 4th leading cause of death in the US – 5th leading cause of death in the WORLD. No money for that!

    Their objective as a public service health department should be a focus on public health – not English lessons…not focus on a small group…unless they have unlimited funds.

    If the KCHD selectively spends tax dollars on illegal aliens – then OPEN OUR BORDERS to ALL people – ALL NATIONALITIES – not just the nationality closest to our border!

    How unfair, unjust, and should be illegal – spending taxpayer funds on anyone other than the people who followed US laws and immigrated here legally!

    Who is accountable for the actions and choices of the “Public Health Dept.”?
    For every dollar they spend on illegal aliens – that is a dollar the ‘legal’ residents won’t get for their public health needs.
    …in my opinion,
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. The Health District deals in public health. I hope that they will continue to provide TB testing, immunizations, HIV tests, family planning and other services to all who need it. If there are people living among us with TB, we and they need to know about it and deal with it. If almost all children are immunized against disease, the few children who are not (for reasons which can included medical and religious ones) are safer.

    It appears that a few people would want the police not to look for an attacker if the victim was not here legally!
    Police, fire protection, health care are essentials for all, and the rest of us benefit when those things are provided to everyone.

  4. Thanks Cean for your comments. The Health District does an incredible job with very little funding. The public health nurses and staff are always looking at ways to obtain grants. From Carol Bruce’s diligence in finding grant funding for the ABC dental program for low income children to the outreach that the public health nurses provide to new mothers.

    It all makes a difference for us, in our wallets, when they practice preventative health.

    I wish we would fund them at a much higher level. Like Johanna said in the article, we save a hundred fold by addressing things with foresight, and not waiting until we have a crisis on our hands.

    When I worked at El Centro with WIC, I asked the staff there about the fact that so many of the people they serve are possibly illegal. They understood the dilemna, but their compassion knows no bounds. They felt that caring for the needs of these people, once again, saves us, in fewer emergency room visits, fewer court costs, etc.

    I recently heard Josh Brown say that we spend something like $3.5 on public defense. Now, if we address things, like domestic violence, (which the women at El Centro do) we can avoid those other costs.

    I wish, too, Sharon, that we would address COPD. It is indeed frustrating to see this disease grow in prevalence and be ignored.

    Maybe we all need to tell the commissioners that they are cutting the wrong programs. Yet, you see this happen a lot, especially with levies (school, et al). They want to cut where we would feel it the MOST, so they can get us to pay more taxes. It’s kind of an ugly Catch 22.

    I would rather we funded the things that we NEED the most, like you.

  5. Illegal aliens belong in their own country, get the care they need in their own country while they apply for legal immigration to this country or any other country they choose.

    Otherwise open our borders to ALL and we’ll treat everyone until we’re depleted.
    Then what, Cean?
    … in my opinion,
    Sharon O’Hara

  6. Posted by familien1 on August 18, 2007 at 7:40 p.m. (Suggest removal)

    I’ve been harshly critical of the KCHealth Dept. refusal to offer early detection Spirometry tests for lung disease…COPD is 4th leading cause of death in the US, 5th in the world … yet support one small group of possible illegal aliens.

    If the Kitsap Sun allows, following in a good and clear explaination of COPD …and the need for early detection …

    “Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is increasingly recognized as a major health care problem and the number of publications in the scientific literature is a reflection of this increased awareness (1). This update cannot do justice to all newly available information, but it does represent a selection of articles that were considered to be of sufficient general interest to warrant further discussion.

    The positive aspects in the definition of COPD-initially introduced by the American Thoracic Society/European Respiratory Society statement (2) in 2004-have been adopted in recent updated guidelines defining the disease as preventable and treatable (3). Recent definitions also highlight that significant extrapulmonary effects and comorbidities may contribute to COPD severity in individual patients (4-9). Clinical management should, therefore, pay careful attention to extrapulmonary effects and comorbidities of COPD, including their effect on the patient’s disease severity and quality of life, particularly in the elderly (8, 10, 11).”

    Sharon O’Hara

  7. Chris … What does it mean that (Suggest removal) is next to my last post and not attached to any of the other posts?
    Sharon O’Hara

  8. All very interesting comments here. Perhaps the Health District should have come up with a different name then “El Centro”. Suppose the Health District were to provide testing for the very important disease COPD, where would that funding come from ??? I have read that there are certain services that are “mandated” by the state, and unless testing for COPD is a mandated service there has to be a funding source. Perhaps it is a “cause” that can be campaigned for… I’m not sure where one would start unless it’s with our local politicians. Unfortunatly Mayor Bozeman is up to his neck in building up the waterfront and the new tunnel. He’s to busy to attend regular “Board of Health” meetings so I don’t think we can count on him to campaign for the cause…

  9. Deception to the public by a tax supported agency is despicable … to cover it up by using a misleading name is worse….wouldn’t you say so, Anon?

    COPD testing isn’t, shouldn’t be … a political matter. The organizations I’ve mentioned below should be more than capable of handling this simple task of organizing Spirometry, COPD early detection testing.

    COPD Spirometry testing for early detection falls under the mandated state description…or so it seemed to me when I read them.

    Recalling that it takes about 20 years for COPD to develop enough to mention shortness of breath and other early symptoms to their doctor…the desperate NEED here is to provide the testing… and it can be done for little money.

    What would it cost to offer early detection Spirometry testing for Kitsap County?

    Very little, cost if we consider the medical savings by the Spirometry early detection test.

    We can collaborate between the Kitsap County Health Department, Harrison Medical Center, Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT), Certified Respiratory Therapists (CRT) Thoracic Society members – to make early lung disease detection, to make Spirometry testing happen for all those asking.

    A simple little machine costing under $100., and taking only minutes to do, will give enough information that the patient can contact their primary doc for further Pulmonary Function Testing – if needed.

    Any trained volunteer can give the tests at the Health Department at least one day a week – hours to include those folks not able to come in during the daytime… and/or at any other location on different days of the week.

    Most lung patients are glad to donate their time to help with early detection.
    With Spirometry training volunteers could give the testing …most will do most anything to help keep folks from developing or to slow the development of lung disease.

    Spirometry should be included in most annual examinations but that is another opinion for another time.

    Last year Harrison Medical Center offered Pulmonary Function Tests at their wonderful public Health Fair – free- but once a year is not good enough.

    The cost to have Kitsap County Health Department Spirometry testing?

    Using volunteers:

    1) The RRT cost to train volunteers to give the Spirometry tests.

    2) Cost of machines (I will donate 3 unused Spirometers plus 100 unused disposable breathing tubes) … No cost.

    3) Cost of the organizer to coordinate volunteers/dates/times/locations.
    (Free if using a volunteer)

    4) Cost of the space for the testing. (Free if using donated space)

    We can get this important community service done for Kitsap County Community at little cost to taxpayers.

    If the above organizations aren’t interested, or too busy…what would it cost to get a volunteer group trained on the Spirometer?

    Two hour Spirometry training by an RRT would cost what?

    Thanks for asking, Anon.
    Sharon O’Hara

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