Border region doctors head to Washington for help

Young boys sleep in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Ariz. CPB provided media tours Wednesday of two locations in Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)
Young boys sleep in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Ariz. CPB provided media tours Wednesday of two locations in Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In Washington Wednesday, Texas doctors who work along the border are talking to members of Congress about what is needed when it comes to the healthcare needs of those making their way into the country.

It’s all part of the 9th annual Border Health Conference sponsored by the Texas Medical Association.

This conference is an opportunity for physicians who practice along the border to talk to members of Congress and federal health officials about the unique health issues they deal with along the border.

While much of the recent media coverage has dealt with people crossing into the states illegally, doctors often see people crossing legally in an effort to seek medical care they can’t receive in their own country.

And even though politicians have voiced concern about the large number of children crossing into the states and the possibility of bringing disease, border doctors have reported to the Texas Medical Association they haven’t seen it.

With the tens of thousands who have crossed they’ve only had one case of H1N1 and two cases of tuberculosis.

But one purpose of this conference is to be prepared if that changes.

“But if any one person were to bring a case of measles into this country because we have a reduced amount of vaccinations here then we used to have that could expose a lot of people to something so we need to make sure solid health screenings are in place and the federal government is stepping up and providing the resources that it can,” said Steve Levine, VP Communications, Texas Medical Association.

On the other hand, doctors also find children crossing over are well vaccinated.

“If you take a look at the vaccine rates, especially in Central America they are actually higher than they are here so perhaps we are doing a better job of protecting the Central American children from diseases they might encounter in the states then the other way around,” said Levine.

The Border Health Conference will also look at providing better care for veterans.

The country’s largest concentration of veterans live south of San Antonio and the VA hospital in South Texas is considered to have the longest wait times in the country for providing care.

While changes to the border health system are not expected to drastically change after the conference, the purpose is to inform members of Congress on where to allocate federal dollars.

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