Aleteia

Doctors help immigrants navigate the healthcare system

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Interview with Mario Paredes, CEO of SOMOS, a network in New York providing healthcare services to low-income communities.

“SOMOS is a network established five years ago to reform the healthcare system in New York” and provide a better help to patients.

What are the challenges faced by SOMOS’ patients?

Nowadays, the SOMOS network has more than 2,500 primary care physicians.

The problems faced by SOMOS’ patients are multiple, as Paredes says, “but clearly, a big challenge today is being an immigrant, and in many cases an undocumented immigrant.”

He highlights some crucial challenges faced by immigrants:

  • Working on low-wage jobs in the service industry of New York
  • Often living in conditions of poverty
  • Having very little education

“This situation can make their lives very complex,” he confirms. “The physician may help by working in a neighborhood where he knows the patient, knows the neighborhood, knows the language, and knows how to help the people. This doctor understands the complexity of navigating a healthcare system like the one we have in New York”.

Many doctors in the SOMOS network are Catholic

“The added value of our primary care doctors serving our local community has to do with life”, underlines Paredes. “Most of our physicians have been educated by a Christian organization, either through their high school or University. They have been trained and educated in those values, and when they are practicing medicine, those values don’t go away.”

The beauty of having a spiritual life

“The doctors genuinely apply what they have learned and are able to communicate faith values that the patient also shares in a way that makes them realize the beauty of having a spiritual life.”