Central Valley

Program will give immigrants medical help and education

The Mexican consulate and a health organization will offer a new educational and referral service for uninsured immigrants in the central San Joaquin Valley starting in September.

The partnership, established two years ago between the consulate in Fresno and Family HealthCare Network, was unveiled Monday at the consulate in downtown Fresno. The program, Ventanilla de Salud, is meant to help uninsured Mexican immigrant workers access medical care.

"Many times they go to the consulate and they don't know where to go," said Harry Foster, president and chief executive officer of Family HealthCare Network.

Funded by the Tides Foundation, the program will be run out of the consulate at 2409 Merced St. and will target chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension. It will refer patients to any of 57 Valley clinics.

Foster said the program includes weekly health workshops and a mobile bus used to provide health education.

Mexican consul Martha Elvia Rosas said the program is meant to prevent emergency room visits by immigrants.

The consulate, which gets about 400 visitors a day, will open its doors to the program Mondays through Fridays starting Sept. 1.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, clients can get health-care advice between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they can stop by between noon and 9 p.m.

Family Health Care Network formed in 1976. A majority of the families it serves live below the federal poverty line and are patients who receive Medi-Cal or have no health insurance. The organization has nine Valley offices.